Relationships between leaf chlorophyll content and spectral reflectance and algorithms for non-destructive chlorophyll assessment in higher plant leaves

J Plant Physiol. 2003 Mar;160(3):271-82. doi: 10.1078/0176-1617-00887.


Leaf chlorophyll content provides valuable information about physiological status of plants. Reflectance measurement makes it possible to quickly and non-destructively assess, in situ, the chlorophyll content in leaves. Our objective was to investigate the spectral behavior of the relationship between reflectance and chlorophyll content and to develop a technique for non-destructive chlorophyll estimation in leaves with a wide range of pigment content and composition using reflectance in a few broad spectral bands. Spectral reflectance of maple, chestnut, wild vine and beech leaves in a wide range of pigment content and composition was investigated. It was shown that reciprocal reflectance (R lambda)-1 in the spectral range lambda from 520 to 550 nm and 695 to 705 nm related closely to the total chlorophyll content in leaves of all species. Subtraction of near infra-red reciprocal reflectance, (RNIR)-1, from (R lambda)-1 made index [(R lambda)(-1)-(RNIR)-1] linearly proportional to the total chlorophyll content in spectral ranges lambda from 525 to 555 nm and from 695 to 725 nm with coefficient of determination r2 > 0.94. To adjust for differences in leaf structure, the product of the latter index and NIR reflectance [(R lambda)(-1)-(RNIR)-1]*(RNIR) was used; this further increased the accuracy of the chlorophyll estimation in the range lambda from 520 to 585 nm and from 695 to 740 nm. Two independent data sets were used to validate the developed algorithms. The root mean square error of the chlorophyll prediction did not exceed 50 mumol/m2 in leaves with total chlorophyll ranged from 1 to 830 mumol/m2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Carotenoids / chemistry
  • Carotenoids / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyll / chemistry
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism*
  • Light
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Plants / radiation effects
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Chlorophyll
  • Carotenoids