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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Functional Plant Biology publishes new and significant information on the functional biology of plants at all scales from the molecular through whole plant to community. More

Editor-in-Chief: Sergey Shabala


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Published online 21 July 2016
Effects of exogenous nitric oxide on growth, proline accumulation and antioxidant capacity in Cakile maritima seedlings subjected to water deficit stress 
Asma Jday, Kilani Ben Rejeb, Ines Slama, Kaouthar Saadallah, Marianne Bordenave, Séverine Planchais, Arnould Savouré and Chedly Abdelly

Nitric oxide (NO) is an endogenous signaling molecule mediating plant responses to environmental constraints. The effect of exogenous NO was investigated in Cakile maritima seedlings under water deficit stress, using sodium nitroprusside as NO donor. NO supply mitigated the impact of water deficit stress on C. maritima by the stimulation of proline biosynthesis and the reduction of oxidative damage.

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Published online 07 July 2016
Establishing the temperature dependency of vegetative and reproductive growth processes and their threshold temperatures of vineyard-grown Vitis vinifera cv. Semillon vines across the growing season 
Dennis H. Greer and Mark M. Weedon

Vegetative and reproductive growth of many plant species is detrimentally affected by high temperatures, but it is not known just how high the temperatures have to be to cause damage. In this work, a hydrocooling system was used to control grapevine canopy temperatures at set points. The results showed many processes such as dry matter accumulation were optimal at 30°C, therefore, where some depreciation was evident suggested a threshold temperature was 35°C and exposure to 40°C was distinctly detrimental.

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Published online 07 July 2016
Genetic variation in Fe toxicity tolerance is associated with the regulation of translocation and chelation of iron along with antioxidant defence in shoots of rice 
Ahmad Humayan Kabir, Most Champa Begum, Ariful Haque, Ruhul Amin, A. M. Swaraz, Syed Ali Haider, Nishit Kumar Paul and Mohammad Monzur Hossain

Iron toxicity is harmful to plants. The aim of this study was to characterise the mechanisms underlying differential Fe-toxicity tolerance in wheat. From our results we propose that Fe-toxicity tolerance in wheat is shoot based and is mainly associated with the regulation of translocation and chelation of Fe together with increased antioxidant defence in shoots.

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Published online 04 July 2016
Phenotyping oilseed rape growth-related traits and their responses to water deficit: the disturbing pot size effect 
Anaëlle Dambreville, Mélanie Griolet, Gaëlle Rolland, Myriam Dauzat, Alexis Bédiée, Crispulo Balsera, Bertrand Muller, Denis Vile and Christine Granier

Plant phenotyping platforms allow high-throughput experiments, and facilitate the study of plant growth to precisely monitored watering conditions. This study describes the disturbing effect of pot size on oilseed rape responses to water deficit. Our results raise the awareness of the need to carefully consider the pot size when designing protocols of high-throughput phenotyping experiments.

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Published online 30 June 2016
Early interconnectivity between metabolic and defense events against oxidative stress induced by cadmium in roots of four citrus rootstocks 
Griselda Podazza, Marta Arias and Fernando E. Prado

Cadmium (Cd) is the main heavy metal that limits plant productivity worldwide. Antioxidant mechanisms of the four citrus rootstocks exposed to environmentally-realistic concentrations of Cd were characterised. We found that roots differ in the ability to cope Cd-induced oxidative stress through differences in metabolic and antioxidant events involving carbohydrates, soluble and polymerised phenolics, lipid peroxidation and reactive oxygen species accumulation. We propose a hypothetical model to explain differences observed in this study.

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Published online 27 June 2016
The effect of elevated CO2 and virus infection on the primary metabolism of wheat 
Simone Vassiliadis, Kim M. Plummer, Kevin S. Powell, Piotr Tr?bicki, Jo E. Luck and Simone J. Rochfort

Elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) associated with climate change can impact important food crops by altering the interaction between plants and insects that spread disease. This study focuses on the biochemical response of wheat to Barley yellow dwarf virus–aphid interactions under predicted eCO2 concentrations, with the results indicating that primary metabolism is altered by both. The increased sugars induced by eCO2 and the increased amino acids induced by virus infection indicate that the virus epidemiology may change in the future.

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Published online 27 June 2016
Water deficit stress tolerance in chickpea is mediated by the contribution of integrative defence systems in different tissues of the plant 
Davinder Kaur, Satvir K. Grewal, Jagmeet Kaur, Sarvjeet Singh and Inderjit Singh

Water deficit stress is a major constraint to chickpea yield and there is need to identify the physiological and biochemical indices of drought tolerance. Water deficit stress tolerance in chickpea is mediated by antioxidative defence mechanisms in different underground (roots and nodules) and aboveground (leaves, pod walls and seeds) tissues. The study can be used for enhancing the sustainability of agricultural practices in low-moisture soils.

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Published online 27 June 2016
Do wheat breeders have suitable genetic variation to overcome short coleoptiles and poor establishment in the warmer soils of future climates? 
Greg J. Rebetzke, Bangyou Zheng and Scott C. Chapman

The effects of high temperature on reproductive growth have been a focus in climate change research. However, concomitant increases in air and soil temperatures will substantially reduce coleoptile elongation, limiting wheat establishment, particularly when wheat is sown early into deeper soil moisture. Improved management, together with selection of new and existing alleles for greater coleoptile length, will be required to avoid crop establishment failures in future climates.

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Published online 24 June 2016
Stress tolerance mechanisms in Juncus: responses to salinity and drought in three Juncus species adapted to different natural environments 
Mohamad Al Hassan, María del Pilar López-Gresa, Monica Boscaiu and Oscar Vicente

Responses to salinity and drought were analysed in three rush species with different degrees of salt tolerance. The most tolerant species – sea rush and spiny rush – were more efficient in inhibition of the transport of toxic ions to the aerial part of the plants, activate potassium transport at high external salt concentrations, and accumulated much higher levels of proline as an osmoprotectant. These findings contribute to elucidate relevant stress tolerance mechanisms in Juncus species.

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Published online 17 June 2016
Genotypic variation in photosynthetic limitation responses to K deficiency of Brassica napus is associated with potassium utilisation efficiency 
Zhifeng Lu, Jianwei Lu, Yonghui Pan, Xiaokun Li, Rihuan Cong and Tao Ren

Plant cultivars higher in potassium utilisation efficiency (KUtE) are likely to have better gross CO2 assimilation and yield under potassium (K) deficiency; however, the inner link between KUtE and photosynthesis remains unclear. The differences on photosynthetic limitations between two cultivars (differ in KUtE) under K deficiency were explored here. Cultivars higher in KUtE were superiority ascribing to their lower K-based thresholds for photosynthetic limitations.

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Published online 14 June 2016
Different photosynthetic acclimation mechanisms are activated under waterlogging in two contrasting Lolium perenne genotypes 
Barbara Jurczyk, Ewa Pociecha, Janusz Košcielniak and Marcin Rapacz

Increased precipitation during warmer winters may lead to low-temperature waterlogging. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of cold waterlogging on photosynthesis: it was shown that different photosynthetic acclimation systems are activated. The results indicate that the predicted climatic changes may modify cold acclimation process in plants.

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Published online 14 June 2016
In vivo and in vitro approaches demonstrate proline is not directly involved in the protection against superoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and peroxynitrite 
Santiago Signorelli, Camila Imparatta, Marta Rodríguez-Ruiz, Omar Borsani, Francisco J. Corpas and Jorge Monza

Plants accumulate proline under diverse stresses, and it has been suggested that proline protects against oxidative stress; however, it is still unclear whether or not its protection is due to antioxidant activity. In this study we evaluated whether proline reacts with several reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and demonstrated that proline is not a scavenger of peroxynitrite, superoxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. This implies that describing proline as a general antioxidant molecule is not correct.

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Published online 07 June 2016
Root morphological traits that determine phosphorus-acquisition efficiency and critical external phosphorus requirement in pasture species 
Rebecca E. Haling, Zongjian Yang, Natalie Shadwell, Richard A. Culvenor, Adam Stefanski, Megan H. Ryan, Graeme A. Sandral, Daniel R. Kidd, Hans Lambers and Richard J. Simpson

Soils low in plant-available phosphorus are a major constraint to global agricultural production. This work investigated how root morphology influences the ability of pasture legume species to explore the soil for phosphorus and yield well under low phosphorus conditions. Selecting pasture legume species with root traits that maximise soil exploration could significantly reduce phosphorus fertiliser inputs in pasture systems.

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Published online 07 June 2016
Reduced soybean photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency associated with evolutionary genetic bottlenecks 
José L. Rotundo and Lucas Borrás

Feeding a growing world population requires increasing the rate of genetic crop improvement, but the lack of genetic variation in modern crops is thought to restrain this objective. Previous studies have tested if soybean wild relatives are a reservoir of genetic variation, but without considering specific physiological traits. We describe a parallel reduction in molecular marker and phenotypic photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency diversity happening after each known soybean evolutionary bottleneck.

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Published online 07 June 2016
Dew absorption by the leaf trichomes of Combretum leprosum in the Brazilian semiarid region 
Ana L. C. B. Pina, Roberta B. Zandavalli, Rafael S. Oliveira, Fernando R. Martins and Arlete A. Soares

In arid and semiarid regions, dew may represent an important water source for plants. We demonstrated that dew leaf absorption aid the maintenance hydration of leaf tissues, improve carbon assimilation and may be considered an important source of water to growth and survival of plants at seasonally dry environments.

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Published online 06 June 2016
Depicting how Eucalyptus globulus survives drought: involvement of redox and DNA methylation events 
Barbara Correia, Luis Valledor, Robert D. Hancock, Cláudia Jesus, Joana Amaral, Mónica Meijón and Glória Pinto

The relation between oxidative stress, DNA methylation and altered cellular function is well known in human cells but still under investigated in plants. Studying how some of these mechanisms were modulated by drought and recovery in eucalypts revealed a parallel occurrence, which is probably part of the explanation of how this species overcomes stressful conditions. Our findings are ultimately intended to encourage the scientific community to identify cellular oxidative signals that control DNA methylation and to define any causal link that may condition cellular response.

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Published online 03 June 2016
Ecophysiology of leaf trichomes 
Christopher P. Bickford

This review examines how leaf trichomes influence leaf physiological responses to environmental drivers. Analysis of work published over the last 40 years shows that reflective trichomes are protective, and that some trichomes may be important in modulating leaf water relations. Together, these findings show that trichomes can exert substantial influence over leaf energy, carbon and water balance.

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Published online 25 May 2016
The influence of water stress on grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) shoots in a cool, humid climate: growth, gas exchange and hydraulics 
Vinay Pagay, Vivian Zufferey and Alan N. Lakso

Seasonal soil moisture deficits are known to negatively affect growth and productivity of grapevines in semiarid climates; however, less is known about the effects of reduced moisture availability in cooler and wetter regions. Here, we characterise the physiological and hydraulic responses of grapevines to reduced soil water availability in a cool climate and show that these responses differ between grapevines as well as within grapevines at the level of individual shoots based on their size.

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blank image Functional Plant Biology
Volume 43 Number 8 2016

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Descriptive Table of Contents 
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Understanding the regulation of iron nutrition: can it contribute to improving iron toxicity tolerance in rice? 
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Geoffrey Onaga , Khady Nani Dramé and Abdelbagi M. Ismail
pp. 709-726

Molecular mechanisms underlying iron nutrition and regulation are not fully exploited for rice improvement against Fe-toxicity. It is vital to understand these mechanisms to unravel effective pathways for improving rice tolerance. A hypothetical genetic model for Fe toxicity tolerance in rice is presented, and key genes and proteins involved are discussed to provide future prospects for improved rice tolerance to Fe toxicity.


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Rapid stomatal response to fluctuating light: an under-explored mechanism to improve drought tolerance in rice 
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Mingnan Qu , Saber Hamdani , Wenzhen Li , Shimei Wang , Jiuyou Tang , Zhuo Chen , Qingfeng Song , Ming Li , Honglong Zhao , Tiangen Chang , Chengcai Chu and Xinguang Zhu
pp. 727-738

Stomatal dynamics in response to fluctuating light can affect water use efficiency and carbon assimilation. This work demonstrated a robust correlation between stomatal delays and drought tolerance through large-scale field investigation to 204 rice mini-core population, and highlighted the importance of natural variation of stomatal movements on leaf economics for breeding programs targeting drought resistance in rice.

   | Supplementary Material (773 KB)  |        Open Access Article

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Salinity tolerances of three succulent halophytes (Tecticornia spp.) differentially distributed along a salinity gradient 
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Louis Moir-Barnetson , Erik J. Veneklaas and Timothy D. Colmer
pp. 739-750

The distribution of halophytes in saline landscapes is often correlated with varying levels of soil salinity. Three stem-succulent (i.e. reduced and fused leaves) Tecticornia species that occupy different habitats at an inland salt marsh of north-western Australia, differed in survival at extreme salinity (2000 mM NaCl) but had comparable physiological responses and growth tolerances of moderate to high salinity (10–1200 mM NaCl). Knowledge of halophyte responses to extreme salinity has implications in the context of understanding adaptation and community structure in saline environments.

    | Supplementary Material (54 KB)

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Separating species and environmental determinants of leaf functional traits in temperate rainforest plants along a soil-development chronosequence 
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Matthew H. Turnbull , Kevin L. Griffin , Nikolaos M. Fyllas , Jon Lloyd , Patrick Meir and Owen K. Atkin
pp. 751-765

In this research we measured ways in which rainforest trees and shrubs change their leaf function in response to massive changes in soil nutrient availability along a 120 000 year soil chronosequence in New Zealand. Leaf density/thickness and photosynthetic rates were most strongly affected by changes in species along the gradient, while leaf phosphorus and nitrogen content were most strongly influenced by changes in nutrient availability along the gradient. This work indicates that a large proportion of plant physiological response at the community level is based on changes in species, and not a direct response of individual species to environment per se – this should be considered when making predictions of responses of plants to short-term environmental change.

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Integrated transcriptomics and metabolomics reveal induction of hierarchies of resistance genes in potato against late blight 
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Kalenahalli N. Yogendra and Ajjamada C. Kushalappa
pp. 766-782

Potato production is threatened worldwide by late blight disease. A metabolo-transcriptomics approach revealed hierarchies of resistance genes triggered following pathogen invasion, including receptors, MAP kinases, phytohormones and transcription factor genes that regulated the downstream genes to biosynthesise phenylpropanoids, flavonoids, fatty acids and alkaloid metabolites to reinforce secondary cell walls, deterring pathogen advancement. These genes can be used in breeding following validation.

    | Supplementary Material (1.4 MB)

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Identification of novel stress-responsive biomarkers from gene expression datasets in tomato roots 
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Almudena Ferrández-Ayela , Ana Belén Sánchez-García , Cristina Martínez-Andújar , Zoltan Kevei , Miriam L. Gifford , Andrew J. Thompson , Francisco Pérez-Alfocea and José Manuel Pérez-Pérez
pp. 783-796

In nature and in the field, plants and crops are commonly exposed to different stresses. By screening public gene expression data, we identified several conserved stress-responsive genes in tomato roots that could be used as biomarkers to rapidly evaluate the response of salt-tolerant cultivars and wild species for which sufficient genetic information is not yet available.

    | Supplementary Material (4.5 MB)

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Effects of plant growth stage and leaf aging on the response of transpiration and photosynthesis to water deficit in sunflower 
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Fety Nambinina Andrianasolo , Pierre Casadebaig , Nicolas Langlade , Philippe Debaeke and Pierre Maury
pp. 797-805

Water deficit in sunflower is a major concern regarding the context of producing oilseed crops with limited water inputs. We analysed the transpiration and photosynthesis processes under water deficit and found that transpiration was more affected than photosynthesis, but sensitivity depended on leaf age, plant growth stage and genotype. Our results could help to improve phenotyping methods and crop modelling under water deficit.


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These articles have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. They are still in production and have not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

    FP16167  Accepted 23 July 2016
    Approaches to Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of Plant Shoot Topology and Geometry
    Jonathon Gibbs, Michael Pound, Andrew French, Darren Wells, Erik Murchie, Tony Pridmore

    FP16120  Accepted 22 July 2016
    K+ fluxes and ROS production as potential indicators of salt tolerance in Cucumis sativus
    Mirvat Redwan, Francesco Spinelli, Lucia Marti, Matthias Weiland, Emily Palm, Elisa Azzarello, Stefano Mancuso

    FP16114  Accepted 13 July 2016
    Proteomic responses in shoots of the facultative halophyte Aeluropus littoralis (Poaceae) under NaCl salt stress
    Wassim Azri, Zouhaier Barhoumi, Farhat Chibani, Manel Borji, Mouna Bessrour, Ahmed Mliki

    FP16134  Accepted 06 July 2016
    Comparison of full-Length and conserved segments of Wheat dehydrin (DHN-5) overexpressed in Arabidopsis thaliana showed differential response to abiotic and biotic stress
    marwa Drira, Moez Hanin, Khaled Masmoudi, Faical Brini

    FP16047  Accepted 06 July 2016
    Maryse Bourgault, Andrew James, Fernanda Dreccer

    FP16003  Accepted 01 July 2016
    Molecular cloning and functional characterization of the tomato E3 ubiquitin ligase SlBAH1 gene
    Shu-Mei Zhou, Sai-Han Wang, Chao Lin, Yun-Zhi Song, Xin-Xin Zheng, Fengming Song, Changxiang Zhu

    FP16097  Accepted 21 June 2016
    Coordinated performance of leaf hydraulics and economics in ten Chinese temperate tree species
    Ying Jin, Chuankuan Wang, Zhenghu Zhou, Zhimin Li

    FP16117  Accepted 18 June 2016
    Micron-scale phenotyping quantification and three-dimensional microstructure reconstruction of vascular bundles within maize stalk based on Micro-CT scanning
    Jianjun Du, Ying Zhang, Xinyu Guo, Liming Ma, Meng Shao, Xioadi Pan, Chunjiang Zhao

    FP16093  Accepted 13 June 2016
    Protection by light against heat stress in leaves of tropical CAM plants containing high acid levels
    G Heinrich Krause, Klaus Winter, Barbara Krause, Aurelio Virgo

    FP16135  Accepted 12 June 2016
    Salinity effects on chloroplast photosystem II performance in glycophytes and halophytes
    William Percey, Andrew McMinn, Jayakumar Bose, Michael Breadmore, Rosanne Guijt, Sergey Shabala

    FP15384  Accepted 05 May 2016
    Truncation of grain filling in wheat (Triticum aestivum) triggered by a brief heat stress during early grain filling - association with senescence responses and reductions in stem reserves
    Hamid Shirdelmoghanloo, Daniel Cozzolino, Iman Lohraseb, Nicholas Collins


The Most Read ranking is based on the number of downloads from the CSIRO PUBLISHING website of articles published in the previous 12 months. Usage statistics are updated daily.

Rank Paper Details
1. Published 11 January 2016
Root-to-shoot signalling: integration of diverse molecules, pathways and functions

Sergey Shabala, Rosemary G. White, Michael A. Djordjevic, Yong-Ling Ruan and Ulrike Mathesius

2. Published 15 September 2015
Genetic approaches to enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in cereals: challenges and future directions

Trevor Garnett, Darren Plett, Sigrid Heuer and Mamoru Okamoto

3. Published 11 January 2016
Shoot–root carbon allocation, sugar signalling and their coupling with nitrogen uptake and assimilation

Lu Wang and Yong-Ling Ruan

4. Published 15 September 2015
The significance of image compression in plant phenotyping applications

Massimo Minervini, Hanno Scharr and Sotirios A. Tsaftaris

5. Published 10 July 2015
Cryptic crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in Jatropha curcas

Klaus Winter and Joseph A. M. Holtum

6. Published 15 September 2015
Genetic diversity for root plasticity and nitrogen uptake in wheat seedlings

Vanessa J. Melino, Gabriele Fiene, Akiko Enju, Jinhai Cai, Peter Buchner and Sigrid Heuer

7. Published 8 March 2016
Dynamic responses of photosynthesis and the antioxidant system during a drought and rehydration cycle in peanut plants

Ana Furlan, Eliana Bianucci, María del Carmen Tordable, Aleysia Kleinert, Alexander Valentine and Stella Castro

8. Published 8 March 2016
Chlorophyll fluorescence parameters allow the rapid detection and differentiation of plant responses in three different wheat pathosystems

Olubukola O. Ajigboye, Louise Bousquet, Erik H. Murchie and Rumiana V. Ray

9. Published 13 April 2016
Temperature response of CO2 exchange in three tropical tree species

Martijn Slot, Milton N. Garcia and Klaus Winter

10. Published 10 December 2015
Signalling via glutamate and GLRs in Arabidopsis thaliana

Matthias Weiland, Stefano Mancuso and Frantisek Baluska

11. Published 15 September 2015
Cellular pathways of source leaf phloem loading and phloem unloading in developing stems of Sorghum bicolor in relation to stem sucrose storage

Ricky J. Milne, Christina E. Offler, John W. Patrick and Christopher P. L. Grof

12. Published 10 December 2015
Root biomass in the upper layer of the soil profile is related to the stomatal response of wheat as the soil dries

Renu Saradadevi, Helen Bramley, Jairo A. Palta, Everard Edwards and Kadambot H. M. Siddique

13. Published 10 December 2015
Physiological trade-offs of stomatal closure under high evaporative gradients in field grown soybean

Viviana Medina and Matthew E. Gilbert

14. Published 10 July 2015
Dynamic response of plant chlorophyll fluorescence to light, water and nutrient availability

M. Pilar Cendrero-Mateo, A. Elizabete Carmo-Silva, Albert Porcar-Castell, Erik P. Hamerlynck, Shirley A. Papuga and M. Susan Moran

15. Published 13 August 2015
What drives fruit growth?

Robert C. O. Okello, Ep Heuvelink, Pieter H. B. de Visser, Paul C. Struik and Leo F. M. Marcelis

16. Published 13 August 2015
The hydraulic architecture of Eucalyptus trees growing across a gradient of depth-to-groundwater

Sepideh Zolfaghar, Randol Villalobos-Vega, Melanie Zeppel and Derek Eamus

17. Published 11 January 2016
Wheats developed for high yield on stored soil moisture have deep vigorous root systems

Sarah M. Rich, Anton P. Wasson, Richard A. Richards, Trushna Katore, Renu Prashar, Ritika Chowdhary, D. C. Saxena, H. M. Mamrutha, Alec Zwart, S. C. Misra, S. V. Sai Prasad, R. Chatrath, Jack Christopher and Michelle Watt

18. Published 11 January 2016
Root responses of triticale and soybean to soil compaction in the field are reproducible under controlled conditions

Tino Colombi and Achim Walter

19. Published 13 October 2015
Lipoxygenase 2 functions in exogenous nitric oxide-induced stomatal closure in Arabidopsis thaliana

Yanfeng Sun, Dong Lv, Wei Wang, Wei Xu, Li Wang, Chen Miao and Hong-Hui Lin

20. Published 15 September 2015
Re-analysis of plant CO2 responses during the exponential growth phase: interactions with light, temperature, nutrients and water availability

Miko U. F. Kirschbaum and Suzanne M. Lambie

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