Customer Stories Dec 28, 2018

LumiGrow LEDs Support Brassica Rapa Developmental Genetics Research at Miami University

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About Rob Baker Ph.D.

Rob Baker is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Biology at Miami University in Ohio. The Department of Biology is one of the largest departments at Miami University. Rob joined Miami University’s staff in 2017, after finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado and working at the University of Wyoming as a post-doctoral research fellow for 6 years.

Rob’s research focuses on developmental genetics and evolution in plants. He is currently looking at how environmental stressors impact gene expression in Brassica rapa. The Brassica genus includes important agricultural crops including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, and mustard.

Earlier Flowering Time

Successful Seed Production

Healthy Plant Growth

A Year’s Worth of Work Lost

Since Rob needs to work with the cultivars whose genes he has sequenced, he grows all of his own seeds for his research. Rob is growing 700 different genotypes to collect seeds for his experiments next year.

“I came [to Ohio] from the Intermountain West, which gets 300+ days of sun a year,” says Rob, “Ohio is drastically less sunny. I didn’t have any supplemental light at the greenhouse here, and there just wasn’t enough sunlight for the plants to flower. I lost a year’s worth of work.”

The plants’ dismal seed production prompted Rob to look for grow lights for his brassicas. Rob had worked with LumiGrow fixtures at the University of Wyoming and liked that he could alter the ratio of red to blue light. When he reached out to LumiGrow, they immediately began to put together a custom light plan for Belk Greenhouse.

“Brassica is agriculturally important. The canola [field mustard] industry alone brings in several hundred million dollars annually. Studying how environmental factors influence the plant at each stage of development has real implications for how people plant, grow and manage these crops.”

A Phenomenal Difference

Miami University installed LumiGrow fixtures with LumiGrow smartPARTM Wireless Control System in Belk Greenhouse. Rob began using them to extend his photoperiod to 16 hours. He turns them on from 5 am until sunrise, and then again from 4 pm until 9 pm.

“The brassicas are doing awesome now – the difference is phenomenal,” says Rob, “They’re flowering much earlier than they were last year. [The LumiGrow fixtures] have made a huge difference.”

What is Brassica rapa?

Brassica rapa is an incredibly diverse species – despite their radically different appearance, field mustard, bok choy and turnips are all Brassica rapa subspecies. The different organs of harvest – leaves, roots, seeds, and oil – are all harvested at different times, which creates a built-in developmental component that allows Rob to address the questions he is interested in answering.

Rob has been collecting data on a number of metrics, including germination rate, flowering time, and chlorophyll content.

“Brassica is agriculturally important. The canola [field mustard] industry alone brings in several hundred million dollars annually,” says Rob, “Studying how abiotic factors influence the plant at each stage of development has real implications for how people plant, grow and manage these crops. It’s not just a cool thing to think about from a scientific perspective.”

Miami University Inside Greenhouse Pink Lights On

Rob is excited to use his LumiGrow Light Sensors next year to automatically adjust his fixtures to meet a specific daily light integral (DLI) and use his LumiGrow smartPARTM Wireless Control System to set up zones so that he can run multiple experiments at the same time. Thanks to Belk Greenhouse’s LumiGrow fixtures, Rob has everything he needs to start his 2019 research on the right foot.

Summary
  • Problem. Short days during fall and winter not providing enough light for seed production for brassicas
  • Solution. Implemented LumiGrow fixtures with LumiGrow smartPARTM Wireless Control System for Greenhouse
  • Results. Brassica plants flowering earlier and successfully producing seeds under LumiGrow spectrum
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TopLightTM
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smartPARTM
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