A simple general method to evaluate intra-specific transpiration parameters within and among seedling families

Leonardi, Stefano; Piovani, Paolo; Magnani, Federico; Menozzi, Paolo
August 2006
Oecologia;Aug2006, Vol. 149 Issue 2, p185
Academic Journal
A method to evaluate the genetic control of plant response to increasing soil water deficit is proposed. A description of single tree transpiration behavior was obtained considering parameters independent from air and soil conditions. We removed environmental effects by using two approaches: the normalization of drought data to control (watered) plants and the fitting of a process model. We analyzed the transpiration of 475 4-year-old European beech seedlings, belonging to eight full-sib families. Approximately, one-third of the seedlings were kept in well-watered conditions while the others were exposed to drought for 14 days. Daily plant transpiration was estimated as the difference between two subsequent gravimetric measurements. A mechanistic model was fitted to transpiration data separately for each tree. In the model, the relationship of transpiration with vapor pressure deficit and soil water deficit of each tree is modulated by three parameters: maximum leaf conductance ( $$g_{\rm l}^M$$ ), maximum transpiration in well-watered soil conditions $$(E_{\rm l}^{M_0})$$ and a parameter describing stomatal sensitivity to soil water deficit ( c). The model successfully fitted most single tree data and a distribution of estimates for the three parameters ( $$g_{\rm l}^M$$ , $$E_{\rm l}^{M_0}$$ and c) was obtained. Predicted transpiration values were in good agreement with observed data ( R 2 = 0.86). The model approach produced parameters significantly correlated with those of the “normalization to control” approach. Estimated parameters vary considerably among trees, suggesting the presence of individual differences in stomatal behavior and response to drought. In spite of a large among tree (within family) variation, the among families component for $$g_{\rm l}^M$$ , $$E_{\rm l}^{M_0}$$ and c explained 9.5, 3.3 and 0.1% of total parameters variation suggesting a significant genetic control of transpiration processes.


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