Efficiency of chlorophyll in gross primary productivity: A proof of concept and application in crops

Anatoly A. Gitelson, Yi Peng, Andrés Viña, Timothy Arkebauer, James S. Schepers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


One of the main factors affecting vegetation productivity is absorbed light, which is largely governed by chlorophyll. In this paper, we introduce the concept of chlorophyll efficiency, representing the amount of gross primary production per unit of canopy chlorophyll content (Chl) and incident PAR. We analyzed chlorophyll efficiency in two contrasting crops (soybean and maize). Given that they have different photosynthetic pathways (C3 vs. C4), leaf structures (dicot vs. monocot) and canopy architectures (a heliotrophic leaf angle distribution vs. a spherical leaf angle distribution), they cover a large spectrum of biophysical conditions. Our results show that chlorophyll efficiency in primary productivity is highly variable and responds to various physiological and phenological conditions, and water availability. Since Chl is accessible through non-destructive, remotely sensed techniques, the use of chlorophyll efficiency for modeling and monitoring plant optimization patterns is practical at different scales (e.g., leaf, canopy) and under widely-varying environmental conditions. Through this analysis, we directly related a functional characteristic, gross primary production with a structural characteristic, canopy chlorophyll content. Understanding the efficiency of the structural characteristic is of great interest as it allows explaining functional components of the plant system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
StatePublished - Aug 20 2016


  • Crops
  • Maize
  • PAR
  • Phenology
  • Primary production
  • Soybean
  • Water status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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