To be tall or short: how plant structure influences light

Application of a new method to measure rapid light changes in crop canopies has shown how architectural traits of wheat can influence the duration and magnitude of changes in light intensity throughout the canopy. In our recently published work, we compared the windfleck characteristics of two wheat varieties with contrasting structural traits. Light intensity can differ up to 40% during a windfleck, with changes occurring on a sub-second scale compared to ~5 min in canopies not subject to wind. Features such as a shorter height, more erect leaf stature and having an open structure led to an increased frequency and reduced time interval of light flecks. This finding illustrates the potential for architectural traits to be selected to improve the canopy light environment with consequences for crop domestication and the indirect selection on the canopy light environment.

You can read the full paper here.