Dynamic Environmental Photosynthetic Imaging Apparatus and Methods


Executive Summary


Due to the complexity of measuring photosynthetic rates of plants, research in improving crop yield has placed little attention on photosynthesis thus far and instead relied on traditional parameters such as crop architecture and growth cycles. Thus, there is a significant unexploited potential to increase the food and biomass output of individual plants.  MSU researchers have developed a technology that provides a high throughput, real-time monitoring of photosynthetic activity of complex plant canopies.  The observed traits are then related to genotypes (phenomics).  This information will allow producers to breed plants with enhanced photosynthetic properties and increased food productivity under diverse environmental conditions.


Description of Technology


This technology is a sophisticated growth chamber or greenhouse device that captures photosynthetic performance data and growth data simultaneously across all plants in the growth chamber/greenhouse.  All plants in the experiment are therefore measured under identical conditions. The growth chamber uses an array of sophisticated lighting and imaging sensors allowing for accurate data collection in the presence of variation in leaf movements, growth, etc. of complex plant canopies in a non-invasive manner.  The lighting system is programmable, allowing the chamber to mimic various natural light conditions.  The device is accompanied by a method designed to estimate photosynthetic performance of crop or biofuels plants and to construct a 3-D model of each plant in the chamber.  This approach provides detailed measurements of growth and photosynthesis under reproducible, yet natural-like environmental conditions without the need of expensive and complex manipulations. The data collected can be used to efficiently screen for plant lines or individuals exhibiting highly efficient photosynthesis or altered resilience to environmental stresses, and ultimately lead to an increase of food productivity and biomass.


Key Benefits

  • Simple - Does not require complex canopy reconstructions for measurements
  • Cost effective - No need for expensive manipulations.
  • High-throughput – Accurate real-time measurements of entire canopies across many individuals
  • Non-invasive – Plants remain unharmed as no physical samples needed
  • Diverse – Ideal for use with plants but applicable to algae or cyanobacteria.
  • Scalable – From very small (10 cm x 10 cm) to very large (full size walk-in rooms) chambers.



  • Plant phenomics for:
  • Agriculture
  • Biofuel Crops
  • GMO Crops


Patent Status: 


U.S. 9,429,521 and foreign patent application published, no. WO2016176612A1


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available.  Especially interested in licensees willing to collaborate with inventors on launching products.


Inventors: Dr. David Kramer, Dr. Jin Chen, Dr. Elisabeth Ostendorf, Dr. Xu Lei


Tech ID: TEC2015-0021, TEC2012-0117


This Technology in the News: http://tinyurl.com/hcfdy5k


Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Brian Copple
Technology Manager
Michigan State University