Chlorophyll fluorescence has been used extensively as a tool to investigate photosynthetic events, screen for photosynthetic mutants, evaluate the impact of toxic substances and other stresses on photosynthetić function, and to detect exposure to various hazardous materials. The method is rapid, nominally 2–3 minutes dark adaptation followed by 15–20 seconds measurement of fluorescence. Data can be stored either as a physical trace on a chart recorder, a storage oscilloscope, or a computer data logging unit. Quantitative and quasidiagnostic features are readily derived from the fluorescence measurement. Instrumentation to measure fluorescence is priced between $2,000 and $20,000. Software programs have been developed to assist professional and technical staff with analysis of the fluorescence trace. Despite the prominence of this non-intrusive assay in basic plant physiology, it remains an under-utilized method in toxicology. Presently, a draft protocol will be moving through the ASTM review process. Completion of the review and inter-lab testing under the specific guideline should elevate the chlorophyll fluorescence method to its worthy status.
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