Light-emitting diodes as a light source for photosynthesis research

Daniel J. Tennessen, Eric L. Singsaas, Thomas D. Sharkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Light-emitting diodes (LED) can provide large fluxes of red photons and so could be used to make lightweight, efficient lighting systems for photosynthetic research. We compared photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and isoprene emission (a sensitive indicator of ATP status) from leaves of kudzu (Pueraria lobata (Willd) Ohwi.) enclosed in a leaf chamber illuminated by LEDs versus by a xenon arc lamp. Stomatal conductance was measured to determine if red LED light could sufficiently open stomata. The LEDs produced an even field of red light (peak emission 656±5 nm) over the range of 0-1500 μmol m-2 s-1. Under ambient CO2 the photosynthetic response to red light deviated slightly from the response measured in white light and stomatal conductance followed a similar pattern. Isoprene emission also increased with light similar to photosynthesis in white light and red light. The response of photosynthesis to CO2 was similar under the LED and xenon arc lamps at equal photosynthetic irradiance of 1000 μmol m-2 s-1. There was no statistical difference between the white light and red light measurements in high CO2. Some leaves exhibited feedback inhibition of photosynthesis which was equally evident under irradiation of either lamp type. Photosynthesis research including electron transport, carbon metabolism and trace gas emission studies should benefit greatly from the increased reliability, repeatability and portability of a photosynthesis lamp based on light-emitting diodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


  • feedback
  • gas exchange
  • instrumentation
  • LED
  • light
  • optoelectric

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