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Light-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) as a field-based high-throughput method for photosynthesis phenotyping of crop plants under drought stress

Nicolas Zendonadi dos Santos

Boosting global food production by up to 70% until 2050 is one of the greatest challenges to be faced in the next decades. Feeding a growing population on a limited planet coupled with environmental constraints makes this goal even more challenging. Food security will rely increasingly on the release of cultivars with consistent high yield stability and improved resilience to drought, particularly in vulnerable arid regions where climatic change is expected to be exacerbated. Accurate and cost-effective field-based high-throughput phenotyping platforms (HTPPs) will facilitate the screening of large populations for the identification of meaningful drought-adaptive traits. The HTPPs will need sensors to identify relevant traits where an integrative signal, such as photosynthesis, may serve as a good selection parameter for crop performance. Most recently the light-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) sensor has been shown to be a valuable tool to provide active chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) measurements from 0.6 m distance for rapid and non-invasive characterisation of photosynthetic traits, such as the operating efficiency of photosystem II (Fq’/Fm’) and two novel parameters, Fr1’/Fq’ and Fr2’/Fq’, associated with the reoxidation efficiency of the primary electron acceptor in photosystem II (QA) at 0.65 ms and 120 ms, respectively, also known as the relaxation phase of ChlF. In this PhD project we aim to implement the LIFT method to remotely and rapidly identify drought tolerant cultivars, as well as to help prospect drought-adaptive traits in crops under field conditions.