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Applications of spectroscopy to characterize plant biomass

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The use of spectroscopy to probe the structure of biological materials and to identify particular chemical groups in living organisms has been growing rapidly in recent years. In plant biology, there has been considerable focus in the field of plant cell walls, where the elaborate mixture of polysaccharides ...

The use of spectroscopy to probe the structure of biological materials and to identify particular chemical groups in living organisms has been growing rapidly in recent years. In plant biology, there has been considerable focus in the field of plant cell walls, where the elaborate mixture of polysaccharides and phenolic compounds can be amenable to various spectroscopic applications such as infrared (IR), Raman, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. However, each of these techniques have their own unique set of benefits as well as limitations, and thus a clear understanding of the specific scientific questions we are trying to answer is necessary before embarking on a spectroscopic characterization of plant material. For example, Fourier transform near-infrared spectroscopy (FT-NIR) can be utilized in a high-throughput manner to screen unprocessed biomass for the detection of outliers; however, without biochemical analysis and modeling, it cannot provide an indication as to the chemical composition of a given sample. In contrast, NMR can be used to identify the exact chemical composition of plant samples, but requires extensive time and labor in proper extraction methods, as well as expertise in data analysis. Therefore the challenges lie not only in the interpretation of the data that is generated but also in the proper implementation of specific spectroscopic techniques in a biological study. Ideally, the application of spectroscopy to the study of plant biomass should provide insight into the structure and composition of living matter under relevant physiological conditions. As such, these techniques have become a powerful toolkit for the biophysical characterization of plant components. The intention of this Research Topic is to create a collection of articles that utilize spectroscopy in various applications to address diverse scientific question in plant biology. We welcome the submission of short communications, reviews, methods and research papers in areas related to the use of spectroscopy (FT-NIR, FT-MIR, NMR, Raman, FT-Raman) to the analysis of plant biomass.


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