Identification of nutrient deficiency in maize and tomato plants by in vivo chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements

Plant Physiol Biochem. 2014 Aug;81:16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2014.03.029. Epub 2014 Apr 16.


The impact of some macro (Ca, S, Mg, K, N, P) and micro (Fe) nutrients deficiency on the functioning of the photosynthetic machinery in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) plants grown in hydroponic cultures were investigated. Plants grown on a complete nutrient solution (control) were compared with those grown in a medium, which lacked one of macro- or microelements. The physiological state of the photosynthetic machinery in vivo was analysed after 14-days of deficient condition by the parameters of JIP-test based on fast chlorophyll a fluorescence records. In most of the nutrient-deficient samples, the decrease of photochemical efficiency, increase in non-photochemical dissipation and decrease of the number of active photosystem II (PSII) reaction centres were observed. However, lack of individual nutrients also had nutrient-specific effects on the photochemical processes. In Mg and Ca-deficient plants, the most severe decrease in electron donation by oxygen evolving complex (OEC) was indicated. Sulphur deficiency caused limitation of electron transport beyond PSI, probably due to decrease in the PSI content or activity of PSI electron acceptors; in contrary, Ca deficiency had an opposite effect, where the PSII activity was affected much more than PSI. Despite the fact that clear differences in nutrient deficiency responses between tomato and maize plants were observed, our results indicate that some of presented fluorescence parameters could be used as fluorescence phenotype markers. The principal component analysis of selected JIP-test parameters was presented as a possible species-specific approach to identify/predict the nutrient deficiency using the fast chlorophyll fluorescence records.

Keywords: Chlorophyll a fluorescence; JIP-test; Maize; Nutrient deficiency; Principal component analysis; Tomato.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Electron Transport
  • Fluorescence
  • Food
  • Light
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / radiation effects
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Photochemistry
  • Photosynthesis*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Zea mays / metabolism*
  • Zea mays / radiation effects


  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Chlorophyll
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen
  • Chlorophyll A