Chlorophyll content decreases in plants under stress conditions, therefore it is used commonly as an indicator of plant health. Arabidopsis thaliana offers a convenient and fast way to test physiological phenotypes of mutations and treatments. However, chlorophyll measurements with conventional solvent extraction are not applicable to Arabidopsis leaves due to their small size, especially when grown on culture dishes.
We provide a nondestructive method for chlorophyll measurement whereby the red, green and blue (RGB) values of a color leaf image is used to estimate the chlorophyll content from Arabidopsis leaves. The method accommodates different profiles of digital cameras by incorporating the ColorChecker chart to make the digital negative profiles, to adjust the white balance, and to calibrate the exposure rate differences caused by the environment so that this method is applicable in any environment. We chose an exponential function model to estimate chlorophyll content from the RGB values, and fitted the model parameters with physical measurements of chlorophyll contents. As proof of utility, this method was used to estimate chlorophyll content of G protein mutants grown on different sugar to nitrogen ratios.
This method is a simple, fast, inexpensive, and nondestructive estimation of chlorophyll content of Arabidopsis seedlings. This method lead to the discovery that G proteins are important in sensing the C/N balance to control chlorophyll content in Arabidopsis.