A diffused-optics flash kinetic spectrophotometer (DOFS) for measurements of absorbance changes in intact plants in the steady-state

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Measurements of steady-state light-induced absorbance changes in intact plants are often hindered by interference from large changes in the light-scattering properties of the chloroplasts. In this work we present a new instrument, the diffused-optics flash spectrophotometer (DOFS), which reduces the magnitude of light scattering interference to manageable levels. In this spectrophotometer, the conventional light path is replaced with a set of light-scrambling chambers formed from a highly light-scattering plastic. The main scrambling chamber acts both to homogeneously diffuse as well as to split the measuring beam into sample and reference channels. Since the measuring beam has no defined incident angle, it is essentially ’pre-scattered‘, and further scattering changes that occur in the sample have minimal effect on the apparent absorbance changes. The combination of a pulsed probe light and differential optics and electronics provides a high signal-to-noise ratio, stable baseline and high time resolution. We also introduce a technique to account for residual scattering changes. Sets of measurements are made with the instrument in optical configurations that are differentially sensitive to light-scattering changes but yield nearly identical absorbance changes. The difference in apparent absorbance spectra taken with the two configurations reveals the spectral shape of the scattering changes without interference from absorbance signals. Spectra of the scattering contributions are then used to eliminate residual scattering interference from kinetic traces. We suggest that DOFS is ideally suited for study of steady-state electron transfer reactions in intact plants.

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