The balance of survival: Comparative drought response in wild and domesticated tomatoes

Yaniv Lupo, Menachem Moshelion*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Plants have the ability to undergo reversible behavioral, morphological, or physiological changes in response to environmental conditions. This plasticity enables plants to cope with uncertain environmental conditions, such as drought. A primary plastic trait is the rate of stomatal response to changes in ambient conditions, which determines the amount of water lost via transpiration, as well as levels of CO2 absorption, growth, and productivity. Here, we examined the differences between domesticated (S. lycopersicum cv. M82) and wild tomato (S. pennellii) species and their responses to drought stress. The plants were grown in pots in a functional phenotyping platform (FPP) in a semi-controlled environment greenhouse. We found that the domesticated tomato had a higher transpiration rate (E) and higher stomatal conductance (gs). The domesticated tomato also had greater biomass and greater leaf area under drought conditions, as compared to the wild tomato. Despite the domesticated tomato's higher E and higher gs, there was no difference between the photosynthetic rates (An) of the two lines. Moreover, the wild tomato had a higher maximum rate of rubisco activity (Vcmax), which might explain its greater leaf level and whole canopy water-use efficiency. The domesticated tomato's higher E and greater leaf area led to its earlier exposure to drought stress, as compared to the wild tomato, which maintained higher levels of soil water, enabling it to maintain steady rates of whole-canopy stomatal conductance (gsc) for extended periods. The wild tomato was also more sensitive to soil water availability and lowered its maximum transpiration rate (Emax) at a higher soil-water-content (SWC) level compared to the domesticated species. Our results suggest that the domestication of tomatoes favored morphological/anatomical performance traits over physiological efficiency.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number111928
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Drought
  • Functional Phenotyping
  • Photosynthesis
  • Stomatal conductance
  • Transpiration


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