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

Linking stem diameter variations to sap flow, turgor and water potential in tomato

Tom De Swaef A B and Kathy Steppe A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology,Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

B Corresponding author. Email: tom.deswaef@ugent.be

Functional Plant Biology 37(5) 429-438 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP09233
Submitted: 16 September 2009  Accepted: 15 January 2010   Published: 30 April 2010

Abstract

Water status plays an important role for fruit quality and quantity in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). However, determination of the plant water status via measurements of sap flow (FH2O) or stem diameter (D) cannot be done unambiguously since these variables are influenced by other effectors than the water status. We performed a semi-seasonal and a diurnal analysis of the simultaneous response of FH2O and D to environmental conditions, which allowed us to distinguish different influences on ΔD such as plant age, fruit load and water status and to reveal close diurnal relationships between FH2O and ΔD. In addition, an analysis of the diurnal mechanistic link between both variables was done by applying a slightly modified version of a water flow and storage model for trees. Tomato stems, in contrast with trees, seemed to maintain growth while transpiring because a large difference between turgor pressure (Ψp) and the yield threshold (Γ) was maintained. Finally, the simultaneous response of D and FH2O on irrigation events showed a possibility to detect water shortages.

Additional keywords: drought stress, early warning, ecophysiology, growth, horticulture, model, transpiration, water relations, water status.


Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Special Research Fund (B.O.F.) of Ghent University for the PhD funding granted to the first author. The authors are also indebted to Philip Deman and Geert Favyts for their technical support.


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