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Keywords:

  • photosynthesis;
  • stomata;
  • conductance;
  • humidity;
  • transpiration

[1] The purpose here is to reexamine the ecological importance of dew in arid and semiarid regions with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean area. This reevaluation is of particular importance under the controversial perspective that dew is insufficient as a source of water for plants but is sufficient to promote the spread of plant diseases. Adana, Turkey, was selected as an appropriate semiarid test ground with well-documented meteorological data and a newly developed photosynthesis and transpiration rate monitor (PTM), which was used to detect the response of transpiration and photosynthesis to the presence of dew on the leaves. A convolution theoretical model was used to simulate no-dew days; simultaneously, PTM measurements were used to obtain actual situations with dew. Contrary to expectations, we detected separate, early peaks of photosynthesis and late peaks of transpiration, leading to an average ratio of about 2:1 units of water use efficiency (WUE) for dew-affected versus no-dew conditions. The impressive performance of the dew-affected WUE was explained by a synergy between (1) low transpiration during dew-affected morning hours and (2) high CO2 gradient toward the canopy. The first resulted from dew formation that created a humid environment in the near vicinity of the leaf followed by a low leaf to air vapor pressure deficit, which minimized transpiration. The second resulted from night respiration that induced a high CO2 gradient from the air toward the canopy. This synergy resulted in intensive carbon intake at a low water cost and explained the ecological importance of dew.