HPP-31806 Advanced Methods for Plant-Climate Research in Controlled Environments


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. W van Ieperen
Lecturer(s)drs. ing. MLJ Wassenaar
prof. dr. ir. LFM Marcelis
SH van Delden
ME Kaiser
dr. ir. W van Ieperen
Examiner(s)dr. ir. W van Ieperen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

For BPW-students that enrolled the MPS-program:  HPP-22803 Concepts in Environmental Plant Physiology;
For other students MPS: HPP-20306 Physiology and Development of Plants in Horticulture and Crops Plants Environment and HPP-23806 Crops, Physiology and Environment

Of the topics covered in the mentioned courses, photosynthesis, water potential and water relations, and the role of leaf energy balance in determining leaf temperature are particularly important. In addition to the biological, physical and chemical concepts introduced in the these courses, students will be assumed to have a basic knowledge of chemistry (especially physical chemistry), physics and mathematics. In particular students will be expected to be familiar with (but with a knowledge or understanding not limited to) the following concepts: 

(1) They need to be capable of quantitative thinking and reasoning. (2) They need to be familiar with basic algebra, including working with more complex equations including logs and exponentials, and the use of symbols to represent factors and variables. (3) In terms of physics, they need to understand the use and significance of scientific units (moles, meters, kilograms, Pascals etc), and be familiar with basic physics of light (eg spectra, photons and energy, wavelength, absorption), the gas law (PV = nRT), absolute temperature, the conservation of energy, Ohm's law and Ficks law and the relationship between conductance and resistance, the concept of change in physical systems, flow or flux, and have a basic understanding of electrons in atoms (an elementary understanding of quantization and energy levels). (4) In relation to chemistry/physical chemistry they need to be familiar with chemical formulae and terminology, the basics of oxidation and reduction, chemical kinetics and rate constants, and simple physical chemical concepts such as pH, heat capacity, vapor pressure and humidity, concentration etc.

It is also assumed that students taking this course will have basic statistical knowledge, the most important of which are; t-test (independent samples or pairwise), F-test (Analysis of Variance), linear regression, experimental design (blocking). In Wageningen these topics are covered in Statistics 1+2 and Advanced Statistics courses.

Assumed Writing and Reporting Skills: Students are expected to be able write well in English in terms of grammar, syntax and structured reasoning and argument. They should be able to write using normal scientific vocabulary and phrasing, and scientific units, species names, the names of chemicals etc should all be written according to the normal rules for scientific writing. To illustrate their work and effectively present their data they should be able to make graphs and tables (including captions) of a standard comparable to that encountered in normal scientific writing (eg a scientific paper). Students should also be able to include literature references in their text in a normal and consistent way (i.e. APA-style) . An example of author instructions for the Journal of Experimental Botany can be found at https://academic.oup.com/jxb/pages/General_Instructions - sites like this provide useful guidance for scientific writing and illustration; and see also a recent paper from a journal, like Journal of Experimental Botany, which makes clearer the layout expected.

Continuation courses:

MSc-Thesis HPP-80424 or HPP-80439 MSc Thesis Horticulture and Product Physiology and ensure that they can meet the expectations outlined in that section.


This advanced course in environmental plant and crop physiology aims to broaden and deepen the knowledge and skills of students interested in plant-environment interactions in controlled environments, such as are found in modern horticultural production systems and in research. This course is intended for students who plan to do their MSc-thesis research at the HPC-group, but might also be interesting for students interested in plant-environment interactions and plant phenotyping. The focus will be on understanding plant and crop behaviour via measurement, and analysing and modelling physical and physiological processes that significantly influence plant growth and performance in environments with a high degree of controllability (e.g. greenhouses, plant factories, growth environments for research). Special attention will be paid to (measuring methods of) photosynthesis, water status, and the role of irradiance, especially duration, periodicity, intensity and spectrum (eg comparing natural irradiance and artificial irradiance (eg from LEDs)), and the effects of extreme climates that might occur in these environments (e.g. high CO2-concentration, high humidity, 24h irradiance). Measuring and characterising light and other climate- and plant-variables (plant temperature) will be discussed in detail, as well as the measurement of photosynthesis, water relations and other relevant physiological processes.

Practical: Students will do a set of  5 practical experiments (all advanced measuring techniques for photosynthesis and other relevant plant processes and climate factors). All measurements during the practica experiments are done on plants that are grown in a set of light/climate treatments relevant for Plant Production in Controlled Environments (overarching . The acquired data will be used in group assignments 1.

Group Assignments: Groups of students (4) will together do two assignments. 

1) they have to make a research poster based on the results of all groups acquired during the  5 practical experiments 

2) they have to make a methodology poster in which they explain the advanced measuring technique used in one of the 5 practical experiment

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- use common and advanced methods for measuring microclimates and related plant variables (e.g. Air and Plant/organ temperature, Light, Air Humidity, Windspeed);
- understand the advantages and disadvantages of specific equipment;
- describe the relevant differences between traditional and new artificial light sources used for plant growth (Fluorescent tubes, High-pressure sodium lamps versus different types of LEDs);
- measure, analyse and explain light environments (mixed and pure daylight/artificial light environments) with respect to intensity, spectrum and duration;
- correctly use terminology and units related to radiometry and photometry and make conversions between them;
- explain the functional differences between different type of 'light' meters (e.g. PAR-sensor, spectroradiometer), their limitations and advantages and their suitability for different applications;
- calculate and explain the backgrounds and meaning of derived parameters such as R/FR ratios, phytochrome stationary states (PSS) and specific wavelength fractions (e.g. blue light) for physiological plant responses;
- name the essential components, functional relationship and use of gas-exchange systems for photosynthesis, transpiration and leaf (stomatal conductance) measurements;
- make essential calculations from raw measured data into established units for photosynthesis and transpiration, including corrections related to system leaks and transpiration; 
- understand and be able to explain the theoretical background of chlorophyll-fluorescence (CF) measurements;
- derive parameters from the raw CF-measurements and explain how leaf photosynthesis can be estimated from these parameters, including assumptions and limitations;
- understand, execute and explain several common and new measuring protocols to derive physiological meaningful information from GE and CF-measurements on plants (e.g. Light Response Curves, A-Ci-curves, dark respiration (RD) in dark and light, spatial resolved variation in stomatal conductance);
- understand and explain the relationship between these advanced protocols and models for photosynthesis (such as for instance the Farquhar-von Caemmerer-Berry (FvCB) biochemical model of photosynthesis). 
- explain the potential and importance of physical-physiological measurements for plant phenotyping and new phenotyping systems.


- attending lectures;
- participation in tutorials and practicals;
- developing a data-management plant for one of the 5 practical experiments;

- attending the practical experiments;

- preparing and presenting two posters;



- 45% poster practical report; (minimal mark 5.00)
- 55% written exam; (minimal mark 5.00).


Scientific Papers.

Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScB: Spec. B - Greenhouse Horticulture4WD