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Plant Physiol. 2002 Oct;130(2):1008-21.

(18)O spatial patterns of vein xylem water, leaf water, and dry matter in cotton leaves.

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Environmental Biology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia.


Three leaf water models (two-pool model, Péclet effect, and string-of-lakes) were assessed for their robustness in predicting leaf water enrichment and its spatial heterogeneity. This was achieved by studying the (18)O spatial patterns of vein xylem water, leaf water, and dry matter in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) leaves grown at different humidities using new experimental approaches. Vein xylem water was collected from intact transpiring cotton leaves by pressurizing the roots in a pressure chamber, whereas the isotopic content of leaf water was determined without extracting it from fresh leaves with the aid of a purpose-designed leaf punch. Our results indicate that veins have a significant degree of lateral exchange with highly enriched leaf water. Vein xylem water is thus slightly, but progressively enriched in the direction of water flow. Leaf water enrichment is dependent on the relative distances from major veins, with water from the marginal and intercostal regions more enriched and that next to veins and near the leaf base more depleted than the Craig-Gordon modeled enrichment of water at the sites of evaporation. The spatial pattern of leaf water enrichment varies with humidity, as expected from the string-of-lakes model. This pattern is also reflected in leaf dry matter. All three models are realistic, but none could fully account for all of the facets of leaf water enrichment. Our findings acknowledge the presence of capacitance in the ground tissues of vein ribs and highlight the essential need to incorporate Péclet effects into the string-of-lakes model when applying it to leaves.

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