A light that shines down on the ground and into your yard can kill plants, but leaves are still alive and well.
A new study from researchers at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University finds that these two forms of light have similar effects on plants.
It’s also a sign of how these light effects work together.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that low-light plants are better able to survive the impact of the low-intensity light than light that reaches a higher intensity.
They also found that this light effect is less intense than the light from artificial light.
“The light from light bulbs has much lower energy density than the low intensity light, which means that the light reaching your light fixture will be less intense and can penetrate the soil more easily than the natural light,” said Andrew Smith, an associate professor in the College of Forestry & Environmental Science at OSU.
“So, low-level light is more energy dense, and plants that are able to absorb that energy are more resistant to damage.”
“In other words, if you have a light bulb that has a higher energy density, then it’s going to absorb more light,” Smith added.
“If you have less light, then the plant will not be able to produce energy as efficiently as it otherwise could.”
The study was published online March 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Smith said the results are important for understanding how light is affected by the environment, which is a key factor in how plants are affected by these low-energy lights.
“In the absence of sunlight, low light plants have little resistance to light damage, and are less susceptible to predation,” Smith said.
“When there’s more light, though, they can still die.”
The research is important because low- light plants are among the most vulnerable to the effects of these low intensity lights.
When plants are exposed to high-intensity lighting, they may have trouble breaking down nutrients and photosynthetic materials, which can make them less productive.
“The effect of these lights on the plants is not something we’ve seen before,” Smith explained.
“We have this idea that plants are more susceptible to damage when exposed to bright light, but this is a very indirect mechanism.”
To test the effect of low- and high-light levels on plants, the team planted more than 200 low-quality plant species at four different locations in the area where they had found the effect.
After the experiment, they collected the leaves of plants that were exposed to the low and high light levels and counted how many died from them.
They then analyzed how many of the leaves died from each light intensity.
The researchers found no difference in the death rates of plants from the low to the high light.
But they did find that plants that survived high- and low-lighting were more susceptible than those that did not.
“This is a result of the fact that light is the biggest killer of low light, so it’s an interesting question to ask, why does light damage plants?”
Smith said, adding that he and his colleagues are also trying to understand how light affects plant survival.