Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2022 Sep 19. doi: 10.1007/s43630-022-00303-2. Online ahead of print.
In the current study, the application of fluorescence spectroscopy along with the advanced statistical technique and confocal microscopy was investigated for the early detection of stripe rust infection in wheat grown under field conditions. The indigenously developed Fluorosensor fitted with LED, emitting monochromatic light was used that covered comparatively larger leaf area for recording fluorescence data thus presenting more reliable current status of the leaf. The examined leaf samples covered the entire range of stripe rust disease infection from no visible symptoms to the complete disease prevalence. The molecular changes were also assessed in the leaves as the disease progresses. The emission spectra mainly produce two fluorescence emission classes, namely the blue-green fluorescence (400-600 nm range) and chlorophyll fluorescence (650-800 nm range). The chlorophyll fluorescence region showed lower chlorophyll bands both at 685 and 735 nm in the asymptomatic (early diseased) and symptomatic (diseased) leaf samples than the healthy ones as a result of partial deactivation of PSII reaction centers. The 735 nm chlorophyll fluorescence band was either slight or completely absent in the leaf samples with lower to higher disease incidence and thus differentiate between the healthy and the infected leaf samples. The Hydroxycinnamic acids (caffeic and sinapic acids) showed decreasing trend, whereas the ferulic acid increased with the rise in disease infection. Peak broadening/shifting has been observed in case of ferulic acid and carotenes/carotenoids, with the increase in the disease intensity. While using the LEDs (365 nm), the peak broadening and the decline in the chlorophyll fluorescence bands could be used for the early prediction of stripe rust disease in wheat crop. The PLSR statistical techniques discriminated well between the healthy and the diseased samples, thus showed promise in early disease detection. Confocal microscopy confirmed the early prevalence of stripe rust disease infection in a susceptible variety at a stage when the disease is not detectable visually. It is inferred that fluorescence emission spectroscopy along with the chemometrics aided in the effective and timely diagnosis of plant diseases and the detected signatures provide the basis for remote sensing.