Heat Dissipation in Plants

Scientists have directly observed the process by which plants dissipate excess light, to prevent damage, using spectroscopy, for the first time.

Effects of Excessive Light Exposure

Light is essential for photosynthesis in plants. However, excessive exposure of plants to light causes a deleterious effect called photoinhibition. In this process, components of the photosynthetic mechanism, called the ‘reaction centres’ are inactivated and results in formation of harmful ‘reactive oxygen species’. This affects the photosynthetic efficiency and consequently lower carbon accumulation in the plant.

Photoprotection in Plants

Plants counter the effect of excess light exposure by using photoprotective pigments. These pigments play 2 contradictory roles: they harvest light to drive the splitting of water and photosynthetic process while also helping to dissipate energy in case of excess light. Chlorophyll and carotenoids are the two pigments involved in this process.

Femto Spectroscopy

The scientists made use of femto spectroscopy to observe this process. These are spectroscopic processes that are capable of observing events in the range of femtoseconds (10−15 seconds). They were able to observe energy transfers over a broad range of energy levels. The scientists observed that the chlorophyll absorbed red light while the carotenoids absorbed green and blue light.

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