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Tree Physiol. 2009 May;29(5):685-96. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpp012. Epub 2009 Mar 6.

Partial root zone drying: regulation of photosynthetic limitations and antioxidant enzymatic activities in young olive (Olea europaea) saplings.

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Laboratoire de Biotechnologie et Physiologie Végétale, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia, Université Cadi Ayyad, BP 2390, Marrakech, Morocco.


The effect of partial root drying (PRD) irrigation on split-root olive (Olea europaea L. cv Picholine marocaine) saplings was investigated. An irrigated control and two PRD regimes were applied (control: irrigation applied on both sides of the root system to keep the soil water content close to field capacity; PRD(50): irrigation applied at 50% of the control amount on one side of the root system and irrigation withheld from the other side, with irrigation regimes switched between the sides of the root system every 2 weeks; and PRD(100): irrigation applied at 100% of the control amount on one side and irrigation withheld on the other side, with irrigation regimes switched between the sides of the root system every 2 weeks. Only saplings in the PRD(50) regime were subjected to water-deficit irrigation. The PRD treatments significantly affected water relations and vegetative growth throughout the growing season. Predawn leaf water potential and relative water content differed significantly between the PRD(50) and PRD(100) saplings, leading to reduced stomatal conductance, carbon assimilation, shoot length and leaf number in PRD(50) saplings. However, the PRD(50) water-deficit treatment did not affect the capacity of the saplings to assimilate CO(2). Activities of superoxide dismutase, soluble and insoluble peroxidase (POX) and polyphenol oxidase were up-regulated by the PRD(50) and PRD(100) treatments compared with control values. The higher activities of both soluble and insoluble POX observed in PRD(50) saplings may reflect the greater inhibitory effect of this treatment on vegetative growth. Up-regulation of the detoxifying systems in the PRD(100) and PRD(50) saplings may have provided protection mechanisms against irreversible damage to the photosynthetic machinery, thereby allowing the photosynthetic apparatus to function and preventing the development of severe water stress. We also measured CO(2) assimilation rate/internal leaf CO(2) concentration (A/C(i)) after exposing the attached leaves to very low [CO(2)] (approximately 50 micromol mol(-1)) to force stomatal opening. These results confirmed that, under conditions of moderate water stress, the sum of the diffusional resistances (i.e., stomatal and mesophyll resistances) sets the limit to photosynthetic rates. Assessing photosynthetic capacity without removing the diffusional limitations may lead to an overestimation of the biochemical limitations to photosynthesis in sclerophyllous plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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