As we approach the next version of the MultispeQ, I wanted to share stories from a few of our beta testers – Matt, Karen, and Kay from the MSU Kellogg Biological Station, Jeremy Harbinson from the University of Wageningen, and Jesse Traub from Michigan State University. You can find even more stories here. Hope this sparks some interesting ideas for applications in your lab, home, farm, work, or play 🙂
Kellogg Biological Station
Matthew Carey (REU student), Karen Stahlheber (postdoc) and Kay Gross (KBS director), Ecologists
Our group is interested in the response of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) varieties to drought, and how that interacts with fertilizer use. We installed rain reduction shelters on fields planted with switchgrass ~6 years ago and managed either with or without fertilizer. These shelters reduce available soil moisture and simulate drought conditions that might occur with future global change. Throughout the summer, we monitored plant growth, chlorophyll fluorescence, xylem tension, and the abundance/diversity of mycorrhizae (fungi that live in symbiosis with plant roots). The eventual goal (after several field seasons) is to understand how the interactions between fertilizer application and arbuscular mycorrhizae diversity affect ecosystem services such as productivity, pathogen tolerance, drought tolerance, and soil carbon storage.PhotosynQ has been a great asset to our project because it allows us to measure any stress the plants may experience due to high light/low water conditions throughout the summer. By measuring Fv/Fm in the early hours of the morning we can understand if plants underneath the shelters have suffered damage to their photosynthetic machinery compared to control plants receiving ambient rainfall. We also can use the devices during the day to assess general photosynthetic performance and see if that differs between varieties or is changed by fertilizer use.
If PhotosynQ is successful, it could allow farmers of cellulosic biofuel crops like switchgrass to use the same tools to monitor their plants for stress or for responses to fertilizer.
Plant Sciences Department, University of Wageningen
Jeremy Harbinson, Plant Physiologist / University Lecturer
We try to understand better the operation, regulation and limitation of photosynthesis in vivo, both from physiological and genetic perspectives. We plan to use the PhotosynQ in teaching and as a tool for the more or less routine monitoring of leaf-level photosynthesis of plants in the field. The PhotosynQ concept opens many doors. In terms of eco or environmental physiology – or phenotyping, particularly that of photosynthesis, it enables large scale data collection in a way that has previously not been possible. It helps close the gap between the diversity for physiological responses encountered in the field due to environmental and genetic reasons and the time required to get good data relating to these responses. Low-cost, fast, and measuring a large number of processes makes many things possible that cannot be done with existing instruments which are expensive, often slow and limited in what they can measure. It is a revolutionary concept.
Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University
Jesse Traub, PhD candidate
We are investigating physiological differences among contrasting dry bean genotypes in their response to drought and heat stress. We are especially focusing on the response of photosynthetic parameters to these stresses. The PhotosynQ platform enabled us to screen large amounts of germplasm to determine at what severity of stress different bean genotypes started to become damaged. If PhotosynQ became a standard tool for my discipline of plant physiology and plant breeding, it would provide an easy way to compare otherwise unrelated experiments and sets of data. This would be great for the reproducibility of experiments! I admire that the PhotosynQ project has been committed to making their hardware, software, and data freely accessible to all to use, learn from, and modify. I hope such sentiments continue to grow in the academic world.
This is just a few of the 100 or so people who used the MultispeQ Beta
You can find a few more stories about using PhotosynQ to develop tools for corals, identify agricultural best practices in Malawi, optimizing light in greenhouses in the Ukraine, and detect disease in soybeans in Michigan. Next time, a progress report on the MultispeQ v1.0!