Water uptake profile response of corn to soil moisture depletion

Y. Li, M. Fuchs*, S. Cohen, Y. Cohen, R. Wallach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The effects of soil moisture distribution on water uptake of drip-irrigated corn were investigated by simultaneously monitoring the diurnal evolution of sap flow rate in stems, of leaf water potential, and of soil moisture, during intervals between successive irrigations. The results invalidate the steady-state resistive flow model for the continuum. High hydraulic capacitance of wet soil and low hydraulic conductivity of dry soil surrounding the roots damped significantly diurnal fluctuations of water flow from bulk soil to root surface. By contrast, sap flow responded directly to the large diurnal variation of leaf water potential. In wet soil, the relation between the diurnal courses of uptake rates and leaf water potential was linear. Water potential at the root surface remained nearly constant and uniformly distributed. The slope of the lines allowed calculating the resistance of the hydraulic path in the plant. Resistances increased in inverse relation with root length density. Soil desiccation induced a diurnal variation of water potential at the root surface, the minimum occurring in the late afternoon. The increase of root surface water potential with depth was directly linked to the soil desiccation profile. The development of a water potential gradient at the root surface implies the presence of a significant axial resistance in the root hydraulic path that explains why the desiccation of the soil upper layer induces an absolute increase of water uptake rates from the deeper wet layers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)491-500
Number of pages10
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Hydraulic resistance
  • Leaf water potential
  • Root length density
  • Root water uptake
  • Sap flow
  • Soil water content
  • Soil water flow
  • Soil water potential


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