Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Bruce Bugbee


Bruce Bugbee


Lance Seefeldt


Dan Drost


The optimal combination of wavelengths of light (spectral quality) for single leaf photosynthesis has been well characterized, but spectral quality is not well characterized in whole plants in long-term studies. Here we report the effects of eight light spectra at two photosynthetic photon fluxes (200 and 500 µmol m-2 s-1) on dry mass, leaf area index and net assimilation of seven species in replicate 21-day studies. The combination of treatments allowed us to separately assess the effects of blue and green light fraction among species and PPF. At a PPF of 500, increasing blue light from 11 to 28 % significantly decreased dry mass in tomato, cucumber, and pepper, but there was no significant effect on soybean, lettuce and wheat. At a PPF of 200, dry mass significantly decreased only in tomato across the blue light range. Effects on leaf area paralleled effects on dry mass in all species at both PPFs, indicating that the effects of blue light on dry mass were mediated by changes in leaf area. Contrary to predictions of net assimilation based on blue light response of single leaves, there was no evidence of decreasing net assimilation with increasing blue light. In contrast to the significant effect of blue light dry mass and leaf area, increasing green light fraction from zero to 30 % resulted in few significant differences. Contrary to several reports on significant green light effects on growth (both increases and decreases), we found no consistent effect of green light among species on growth, leaf area or net assimilation. Collectively, these results indicate significant differences among species in sensitivity to blue light and less sensitivity to green light, and that the effect of blue light on dry mass is primarily determined by changes in leaf area.