Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Influence of season, drought and xylem ABA on stomatal responses to leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference of trees of the Australian wet-dry tropics

D. S. Thomas, D. Eamus and S. Shanahan

Australian Journal of Botany 48(2) 143 - 151
Published: 2000

Abstract

This paper reports the results of two experiments undertaken to investigate the influence of season and soil drying on stomatal responses to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences. We examined the response of stomatal conductance to increasing leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference, in the wet and dry seasons, of five tropical tree species. We also examined leaves of these species for anatomical differences to determine whether this could explain differences in stomatal sensitivity to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences. Finally, we conducted a split-root experiment with one of those species to look for interactions between xylem abscisic acid concentration, predawn water potential, leaf area to root mass ratio and stomatal responses to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences.

Stomatal conductance declined linearly with increasing leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference in all species. Leaves that expanded in the ‘dry’ season were more sensitive to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences than those that had expanded in the ‘wet’ season. The value of leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference where 50% of extrapolated maximum stomatal conductance would occur was 5.5 kPa for wet season but only 3.4 kPa for dry season leaves. In the wet season, transpiration rate increased with increasing leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference in most example species. However, in the dry season, transpiration was constant as leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences increased in most cases. There were significant changes in the proportion of cell wall exposed to air space in leaves, between wet and dry seasons, in three of four species examined.

In the split-root experiment, a very mild water stress increased stomatal sensitivity to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences, and stomatal conductivity declined linearly with decreasing predawn water potential. However, levels of ABA in the xylem did not change, and stomatal sensitivity to exogenous ABA did not change. The ratio of leaf area to root mass declined during water stress and was correlated to changes in stomatal sensitivity to leaf-to-air vapour pressure differences.

https://doi.org/10.1071/BT98090

© CSIRO 2000


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