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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Evaluating the relationship between leaf chlorophyll concentration and SPAD-502 chlorophyll meter readings

Uddling, J.; Gelang-Alfredsson, J.; Piikki, K.; Pleijel, H.


Relationships between chlorophyll concentration ([chl]) and SPAD values were determined for birch, wheat, and potato. For all three species, the relationships were non-linear with an increasing slope with increasing SPAD. The relationships for birch and wheat were strong (r(2) similar to 0.9), while the potato relationship was comparatively weak (r(2) similar to 0.5). Birch and wheat had very similar relationships when the chlorophyll concentration was expressed per unit leaf area, but diverged when it was expressed per unit fresh weight. Furthermore, wheat showed similar SPAD-[chl] relationships for two different cultivars and during two different growing seasons. The curvilinear shape of the SPAD-[chl] relationships agreed well with the simulated effects of non-uniform chlorophyll distribution across the leaf surface and multiple scattering, causing deviations from linearity in the high and low SPAD range, respectively. The effect of non-uniformly distributed chlorophyll is likely to be more important in explaining the non-linearity in the empirical relationships, since the effect of scattering was predicted to be comparatively weak. The simulations were based on the algorithm for the calculation of SPAD-502 output values. We suggest that SPAD calibration curves should generally be parameterised as non-linear equations, and we hope that the relationships between [chl] and SPAD and the simulations of the present study can facilitate the interpretation of chlorophyll meter calibrations in relation to optical properties of leaves in future studies.


absorbance; chlorophyll; non-uniform chlorophyll distribution; reflectance; scattering; SPAD

Published in

Photosynthesis Research
2007, volume: 91, number: 1, pages: 37-46

Authors' information

Uddling, Johan
University of Gothenburg
Gelang-Alfredsson, Johanna
University of Gothenburg
Piikki, Kristin (Persson, Kristin)
University of Gothenburg
Pleijel, Håkan
University of Gothenburg

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