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J Exp Bot. 2003 Aug;54(389):1941-9. Epub 2003 Jun 18.

Ecophysiological relevance of cuticular transpiration of deciduous and evergreen plants in relation to stomatal closure and leaf water potential.

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  • 1Julius-von-Sachs-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Botanik ll - Okophysiologie und Vegetationsökologie, Universität Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 3, D-97082 Würzburg, Germany. markus.burghardt@botanik.uni-wuerzburg.de


The water permeability of the leaves of three deciduous plants (Acer campestre, Fagus sylvatica, Quercus petraea) and two evergreen plants (Hedera helix, Ilex aquifolium) was analysed in order to assess its role as a mechanism of drought resistance. Cuticular permeances were determined by measurement of the water loss through adaxial, astomatous leaf surfaces. Minimum conductances after complete stomatal closure were obtained by leaf drying curves. The comparison of the water permeabilities determined with these two experimental systems revealed good agreement in the case of Acer, Fagus, Quercus, and Ilex. For Hedera the minimum conductance was 3-fold higher than the cuticular permeance indicating a significant contribution of residual stomatal transpiration. The leaf water potential was measured as a function of water content and analysed by pressure-volume curves. The influence of water potential as a component of the driving force for transpirational water loss was assessed in order to identify modifications of the cuticular barrier by the leaf water content. The ecophysiological meaning of the water relations parameters describing transpiration under drought conditions (cuticular transpiration, minimum transpiration, residual stomatal transpiration, effect of leaf water content on transpiration) and the water relations parameters derived from pressure-volume curves (osmotic potential at full saturation, turgor loss point, bulk modulus of elasticity) are discussed with regard to adaptations for drought resistance.

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