Plants respond to many environmental changes by rapidly adjusting their hydraulic conductivity and transpiration rate, thereby optimizing water-use efficiency and preventing damage due to low water potential. A multiple-load-cell apparatus, time-series analysis of the measured data, and residual low-pass filtering methods were used to monitor continuously and analyse transpiration of potted tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum cv. Ailsa Craig) grown in a temperature-controlled greenhouse during well-irrigated and drought periods. A time derivative of the filtered residual time series yielded oscillatory behaviour of the whole plant's transpiration (WPT) rate. A subsequent cross-correlation analysis between the WPT oscillatory pattern and wet-wick evaporation rates (vertical cotton fabric, 0.14 m2 partly submerged in water in a container placed on an adjacent load cell) revealed that autonomous oscillations in WPT rate develop under a continuous increase in water stress, whereas these oscillations correspond with the fluctuations in evaporation rate when water is fully available. The relative amplitude of these autonomous oscillations increased with water stress as transpiration rate decreased. These results support the recent finding that an increase in xylem tension triggers hydraulic signals that spread instantaneously via the plant vascular system and control leaf conductance. The regulatory role of synchronized oscillations in WPT rate in eliminating critical xylem tension points and preventing embolism is discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was partially supported by a grant (no. 904-4.12/ 06) from the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF).
- Hydraulic signal
- Oscillatory transpiration rate
- Plant-water relationship
- Whole-plant transpiration
- Xylem susceptibility