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New Phytol. 2015 Sep;207(4):1015-25. doi: 10.1111/nph.13442. Epub 2015 May 13.

Effects of stomata clustering on leaf gas exchange.

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Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland.


A general theoretical framework for quantifying the stomatal clustering effects on leaf gaseous diffusive conductance was developed and tested. The theory accounts for stomatal spacing and interactions among 'gaseous concentration shells'. The theory was tested using the unique measurements of Dow et al. (2014) that have shown lower leaf diffusive conductance for a genotype of Arabidopsis thaliana with clustered stomata relative to uniformly distributed stomata of similar size and density. The model accounts for gaseous diffusion: through stomatal pores; via concentration shells forming at pore apertures that vary with stomata spacing and are thus altered by clustering; and across the adjacent air boundary layer. Analytical approximations were derived and validated using a numerical model for 3D diffusion equation. Stomata clustering increases the interactions among concentration shells resulting in larger diffusive resistance that may reduce fluxes by 5-15%. A similar reduction in conductance was found for clusters formed by networks of veins. The study resolves ambiguities found in the literature concerning stomata end-corrections and stomatal shape, and provides a new stomata density threshold for diffusive interactions of overlapping vapor shells. The predicted reduction in gaseous exchange due to clustering, suggests that guard cell function is impaired, limiting stomatal aperture opening.


gas diffusion; leaf conductance; spatial organization; stomata clustering; stomatal aperture

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