Excised leaves show limited and species-specific effects on photosynthetic parameters across crop functional types.
Photosynthesis is increasingly becoming a recognized target for crop improvement. Phenotyping photosynthesis-related traits on field-grown material is a key bottleneck to progress here due to logistical barriers and short measurement days. Many studies attempt to overcome these challenges by phenotyping excised leaf material in the laboratory. To date there are no demonstrated examples of the representative nature of photosynthesis measurements performed on excised leaves relative to attached leaves in crops. Here, we tested whether standardized leaf excision on the day prior to phenotyping affected a range of common photosynthesis-related traits across crop functional types using tomato (C3 dicot), barley (C3 monocot), and maize (C4 monocot). Potentially constraining aspects of leaf physiology that could be predicted to impair photosynthesis in excised leaves, namely leaf water potential and abscisic acid accumulation, were not different between attached and excised leaves. We also observed non-significant differences in spectral reflectance and chlorophyll fluorescence traits between the treatments across the three species. However, we did observe some significant differences between traits associated with gas exchange and photosynthetic capacity across all three species. This study represents a useful reference for those who perform measurements of this nature and the differences reported should be considered in associated experimental design and statistical analyses.