To transfer experimental findings in plant research to natural ecosystems it is imperative to reach near to natural-like plant performance. Previous studies propose differences in temperature and light quantity as main sources of deviations between indoor and outdoor plant growth. With increasing implementation of light emitting diodes (LED) in plant growth facilities, light quality is yet another factor that can be optimised to prevent unnatural plant performance. We investigated the effects of different wavelength combinations in phytotrons (i.e., indoor growth chambers) on plant growth and physiology in seven different plant species from different plant functional types (herbs, grasses and trees). The results from these experiments were compared against a previous field trial with the same set of species. While different proportions of blue (B) and red (R) light were applied in the phytotrons, the mean environmental conditions (photoperiod, total radiation, red to far red ratio and day/night temperature and air humidity) from the field trial were used in the phytotrons in order to assess which wavelength combinations result in the most natural-like plant performance. Different plant traits and physiological parameters, including biomass productivity, specific leaf area (SLA), leaf pigmentation, photosynthesis under a standardised light, and the respective growing light and chlorophyll fluorescence, were measured at the end of each treatment. The exposure to different B percentages induced species-specific dose response reactions for most of the analysed parameters. Compared with intermediate B light treatments (25 and/or 35% B light), extreme R or B light enriched treatments (6% and 62% of B respectively) significantly affected the height, biomass, biomass allocation, chlorophyll content, and photosynthesis parameters, differently among species. Principal component analyses (PCA) confirmed that 6% and 62% B light quality combinations induce more extreme plant performance in most cases, indicating that light quality needs to be adjusted to mitigate unnatural plant responses under indoor conditions.
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