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Artificial Light and Plant Development

Toronto, ON
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Many important elements such as water, soil, sunlight, and carbon dioxide, are often associated with the growth and development of a plant. All of these are equally indispensable and many of them come from nature itself. However, nature is not always willing to cooperate and provide the ideal amount of elements such as water and sunlight to allow different plants to grow. This undoubtedly poses quite a problem to any passionate gardeners and curious researchers out in the world. But fear not! There is one element crucial to a plant’s growth we can manipulate: Sunlight! With the help of artificial light.


To begin, it is important to understand why plants need sunlight in the first place. As many people might know, plants do photosynthesis to provide energy for themselves, and they use sunlight to do so. But what particularly is it about the sunlight that enables plants to photosynthesize? The answer to that question is photons. Each photon carries a

certain amount of energy, called photon energy. When a photon hits an object, such as a plant, the photon imparts that energy to that object. Therefore, the plant can absorb that energy, store it, and then later use it to create chemical energy in the form of molecules ATP and NADPH. Later, these molecules are used to assemble carbohydrate molecules such as glucose from carbon dioxide which becomes the plant's food.


So now that it is clear why sunlight is crucial in plant development, let’s compare it to light that is artificially made. At first glance, one may be able to hypothesize that different lights would lead to different results for plant growth due to the various colors and

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Plants under artificial light

intensities: They would be correct. The white light that is produced from the sun contains larger amounts of red and blue light which plants absorb the most than artificial light. In addition, sunlight is generally more intense than artificial light. Plants are best adapted to that intensity as it would allow them to be hit with more photons and therefore photosynthesize more effectively.

An interesting experiment done with lettuce demonstrates how some plants are light-dependent. The experiment proved how when lettuce is grown with exposure to the red LED light its stem tends to elongate more than if it were to be grown with exposure to white light. On the other hand, when lettuce is exposed to blue LED light during growth, the light tends to prevent the elongation of the plant stem.


Whether it be sunlight or artificial light, plants have proven to be able to adapt and accept either one. With this new knowledge, more and more research is being conducted hopefully with the goal to improve society such as tackling the food problems around the world and inventing new ways to protect what would otherwise be endangered plants. Light itself is a key element in the growth and development of a plant. And who knows? Maybe one day, through the growth and development of artificial light, there might be the key that unlocks the door for future discoveries in plant accommodation.


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