An equipment for plant researchers

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Mangalore varsity purchases photosynthesis analyser

The portable plant photosynthesis analyser.— Photo: H.S. MANJUNATH
The portable plant photosynthesis analyser.— Photo: H.S. MANJUNATH

An equipment to help plant researchers is now available at the Department of Applied Botany in Mangalore University. It measures the rate of photosynthesis in plants in natural conditions and also in plants treated with radiation/chemicals.

According to K.R. Chandrashekar, Professor and Principal Investigator, Centre of Excellence, Department of Applied Botany, the battery-operated portable equipment weighing about 5 kg is designed in such a way that the measurements can be made in a non-destructive method. “Here, there is no need to uproot or kill the plant to measure the rate of photosynthesis,” he said.

Prof. Chandrashekar said that the fully programmable miniaturised analyser will have a wide range of applications in the field of agriculture, plantation and forestry. “The ultimate goal of the cultivation of any plant for any purpose is to obtain the maximum yield which is nothing but its total ability to synthesise sugars through photosynthesis,” he said.

If this can be measured in the early stages of plant growth, probably it would be possible to predict the final yield. In this respect, the photosynthesis system will be a very useful instrument, he said.

What is photosynthesis?

Prof. Chandrashekar said that plants have got specialised structures in their leaf cells called chloroplasts, and the presence of these pigments imparts green colour to the leaves. These pigments are capable of fixing the carbon dioxide available in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight to sugars. While doing so, they release oxygen into the environment. This process is called photosynthesis.

The rate of fixing of CO2 varies from plant to plant which once again depends on various physiological and environmental factors such as light intensity, moisture content, temperature, wind etc., Prof. Chandrashekar said.

The equipment is manufactured by ADC BioScientific Ltd., U.K.



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