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Tree Physiol. 1996 Apr;16(4):441-6.

Isoprene emission, photosynthesis, and growth in sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) seedlings exposed to short- and long-term drying cycles.

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Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Isoprene emissions were studied in one-year old sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) seedlings during nine drying-rewatering cycles extending over five months. Each drying cycle lasted to the point of leaf wilting. Growth was essentially stopped in response to the first drying cycle, though seedling survival and capacity to recover turgor on rewatering remained high throughout the entire nine cycles. Photosynthetic rates of leaves were inhibited by the drying treatments. Under severe drought, isoprene emission rates of leaves were also inhibited, though isoprene emission was generally less sensitive to drought than photosynthesis. The lower drought sensitivity of isoprene emission compared with photosynthesis resulted in a higher percentage of fixed carbon lost as isoprene as seedlings became more stressed. During the recovery phase of the drying-rewatering cycles, isoprene emission rates in several seedlings were higher than in well-watered control seedlings. Following the ninth drying-rewatering cycle, sustained daily watering resulted in recovery of isoprene emission rates to control values within four days. Photosynthetic rates only recovered to 50% of control values after seven days. We conclude that the mechanisms regulating photosynthetic rate and isoprene emission rate are differentially influenced by limited water supplies. The results are consistent with past studies that predict a protective role for isoprene emission during stress, particularly protection from excessive leaf temperatures during drought.

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