Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Different water relations between flowering and leaf periods: a case study in flower-before-leaf-emergence Magnolia species

Hui Liu A B , Qiu-Yuan Xu A C , Marjorie R. Lundgren D and Qing Ye A B E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xingke Road 723, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510650, China.

B Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China.

C University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yuquan Road 19A, Beijing 100049, China.

D Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.

E Corresponding author. Email: qye@scbg.ac.cn

Functional Plant Biology - https://doi.org/10.1071/FP16429
Submitted: 8 December 2016  Accepted: 11 July 2017   Published online: 11 August 2017

Abstract

The differing water relations between flowers and leaves on a plant reflect the lack of co-ordination between reproductive and vegetative organs during the evolution of angiosperm species. The amount of water that flowers consume has been reported to vary across species, and compared with studies of leaves, accurate measurements of flower water relations at the branch level are lacking. Further, the mechanisms by which flowers regulate their hydraulic function and structure to maintain water balance remain unclear. To explore the ecophysiological basis underpinning the differences between flowers and leaves, we measured hydraulic and morphological traits and monitored sap flow in flowers and leaves from the same branches of two Magnoliaceae species that flower before leaf emergence (Magnolia denudata Desr. and Magnolia soulangeana Soul.-Bod.). Sap flux density (JS) of flowers was 22% and 55% of that predicted for leaves in M. denudata and M. soulangeana respectively. JS of flowers commenced before predawn and ceased early in the afternoon, reflecting their night-time flowering pattern and a dramatic decrease of JS with increasing vapour pressure deficit (D) under the high light of midday. Relative to leaves, tepals were thicker and more hydrated, and had bigger but scarcer stomata, leading to lower stomatal conductance (gs) and transpiration rate (E), less negative water potential (Ψtepal) and lower hydraulic conductance. This study revealed different hydraulic patterns in the flowers and leaves of the two Magnolia species. Although flowers consumed less than half the water that leaves did, they used different strategies to maintain sufficiently high Ψ to sustain hydraulic safety. Magnolia flowers retained more hydrated tepals by exhibiting less water loss than leaves via lower hydraulic conductance. In contrast, Magnolia leaves maintained high transpiration rates through efficient stomatal responses to environmental changes compared with flowers.

Additional keywords: floral hydraulics, flowering stage, gas exchange, leaf hydraulic conductance, Magnoliaceae, sap flow, stomata, water potential, xylem hydraulic conductivity.


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