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A guide to photosynthetic gas exchange measurements: Fundamental principles, best practice and potential pitfalls

Florian Busch, Lisa Ainsworth, Anna Amtmann, Amanda Cavanagh, Steven Driever, John Ferguson, Johannes Kromdijk, Tracy Lawson, Andrew Leakey, Jack Matthews, Katherine Meacham-Hensold, Richard Vath, Silvere Vialet-Chabrand, Berkley Walker, Maria Papanatsiou


Gas exchange measurements enable mechanistic insights into the processes that underpin carbon and water fluxes in plant leaves which in turn inform understanding of related processes at a range of scales from individual cells to entire ecosytems. Given the importance of photosynthesis for the global climate discussion it is important to (a) foster a basic understanding of the fundamental principles underpinning the experimental methods used by the broad community, and (b) ensure best practice and correct data interpretation within the research community. In this review, we outline the biochemical and biophysical parameters of photosynthesis that can be investigated with gas exchange measurements and we provide step-by-step guidance on how to reliably measure them. We advise on best practices for using gas exchange equipment and highlight potential pitfalls in experimental design and data interpretation. The Supporting Information contains exemplary data sets, experimental protocols and data-modelling routines. This review is a community effort to equip both the experimental researcher and the data modeller with a solid understanding of the theoretical basis of gas-exchange measurements, the rationale behind different experimental protocols and the approaches to data interpretation.

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