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Sensing photosynthesis

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laptop connected to device analysing a plant

In DREAM, the remote measurement of photosynthesis is fundamental to quantifying and modelling the management of resources leading to yield.

Most of today’s sensors for photosynthesis rely on chlorophyll fluorescence, which reports only partially on the photosynthetic activity. Other parameters can be used, but they often require in situ or on-site observation, making them incompatible with remote sensing.

At DREAM, we aim to develop new remote sensors to enrich the range of information acquired at different points in the photosynthetic process. We will therefore develop luminescent nanosensors capable of signalling various stages of photosynthetic activity: the final product, Oxygen, pH change, and CO2 concentration. This data acquired in microalgae and plants will be included in a model of photosynthesis that considers the dynamics of its regulation.

The sensors are coupled to a new modulated illumination, used first as a known input to interrogate photosynthetic organisms and then as a light source that responds to the organism’s needs, optimising the energy supply to support a given growth rate.

We aim to evaluate up to what level time-modulated illuminations, much closer to natural environmental light conditions, can enhance lighting efficiency in controlled environments.