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Plant Cell Environ. 2013 Nov;36(11):1950-60. doi: 10.1111/pce.12101. Epub 2013 Apr 15.

Meristem temperature substantially deviates from air temperature even in moderate environments: is the magnitude of this deviation species-specific?

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Horticultural Supply Chains, Wageningen University, 6700 AP, Wageningen, The Netherlands; Greenhouse Horticulture, Wageningen UR, 6700 AP, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Meristem temperature (Tmeristem ) drives plant development but is hardly ever quantified. Instead, air temperature (Tair ) is usually used as its approximation. Meristems are enclosed within apical buds. Bud structure and function may differ across species. Therefore, Tmeristem may deviate from Tair in a species-specific way. Environmental variables (air temperature, vapour pressure deficit, radiation, and wind speed) were systematically varied to quantify the response of Tmeristem . This response was related to observations of bud structure and transpiration. Tomato and cucumber plants were used as model plants as they are morphologically distinct and usually growing in similar environments. Tmeristem substantially deviated from Tair in a species-specific manner under moderate environments. This deviation ranged between -2.6 and 3.8 °C in tomato and between -4.1 and 3.0 °C in cucumber. The lower Tmeristem observed in cucumber was linked with the higher transpiration of the bud foliage sheltering the meristem when compared with tomato plants. We here indicate that for properly linking growth and development of plants to temperature in future applications, for instance in climate change scenarios studies, Tmeristem should be used instead of Tair , as a species-specific trait highly reliant on various environmental factors.


cucumber (Cucumis sativus); development; heat; radiation; shoot apical meristem; tomato (Solanum lycopersicum); transpiration; wind speed

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