Measurements of in vivo photosynthesis are powerful tools that probe the largest fluxes of carbon and energy in an illuminated leaf, but often the specific techniques used are so varied and specialized that it is difficult for researchers outside the field to select and perform the most useful assays for their research questions. The goal of this chapter is to provide a broad overview of the current tools available for the study of in vivo photosynthesis so as to provide a foundation for selecting appropriate techniques, many of which are presented in detail in subsequent chapters. This chapter also organizes current methods into a comparative framework and provides examples of how they have been applied to research questions of broad agronomical, ecological, or biological importance. The chapter closes with an argument that the future of in vivo measurements of photosynthesis lies in the ability to use multiple methods simultaneously and discusses the benefits of this approach to currently open physiological questions. This chapter, combined with the relevant methods chapters, could serve as a laboratory course in methods in photosynthesis research or as part of a more comprehensive laboratory course in general plant physiology methods.
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