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Plant Physiol. 1991 Jun;96(2):588-96.

Comparison of Modeled and Observed Environmental Influences on the Stable Oxygen and Hydrogen Isotope Composition of Leaf Water in Phaseolus vulgaris L.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112.


In this paper we describe how a model of stable isotope fractionation processes, originally developed by H. Craig and L. I. Gordon ([1965] in E Tongiorgi, ed, Proceedings of a Conference on Stable Isotopes in Oceanographic Studies and Paleotemperature, Spoleto, Italy, pp 9-130) for evaporation of water from the ocean, can be applied to leaf transpiration. The original model was modified to account for turbulent conditions in the leaf boundary layer. Experiments were conducted to test the factors influencing the stable isotopic composition of leaf water under controlled environment conditions. At steady state, the observed leaf water isotopic composition was enriched above that of stem water with the extent of the enrichment dependent on the leaf-air vapor pressure difference (VPD) and the isotopic composition of atmospheric water vapor (AWV). The higher the VPD, the larger was the observed heavy isotope content of leaf water. At a constant VPD, leaf water was relatively depleted in heavy isotopes when exposed to AWV with a low heavy isotope composition, and leaf water was relatively enriched in heavy isotopes when exposed to AWV with a large heavy isotope composition. However, the observed heavy isotope composition of leaf water was always less than that predicted by the model. The extent of the discrepancy between the modeled and observed leaf water isotopic composition was a strong linear function of the leaf transpiration rate.

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