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Decreased root hydraulic conductivity reduces leaf water potential, initiates stomatal closure and slows leaf expansion in flooded plants of castor oil (Ricinus communis) despite diminished delivery of ABA from the roots to shoots in xylem sap


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Soil flooding reduced stomatal conductance (gs) and slowed transpiration, CO2 uptake and leaf elongation in Ricinus communis within 2–6 h. These flood-induced responses developed further over the next 21 h. They were not associated with increased delivery of abscisic acid (ABA) in xylem sap. Instead, ABA delivery from flooded roots decreased 6-fold within 3 h, and remained low thereafter. Root hydraulic conductance (Lp) was depressed 47% below control values within 2 h of soil flooding, and declined further during the next 21 h. The smaller Lp temporarily decreased leaf water potentials (ΨL) by up to −0.4 MPa, and caused visible wilting 3 h into the flooding treatment at 80% relative humidity. Consequently, ABA concentrations in the shoot were increased, as indicated by analyses of phloem sap. Wilting, fall in ΨL and a reduction in gs were delayed for 6 h when 0.6 MPa pneumatic pressure (technical maximum) was applied to the roots. In flooded plants, phloem sap ABA concentrations returned to normal after 24 h. The initial stomatal closure, caused by soil flooding in R. communis, is attributed to decreased leaf hydration arising from the reduced LP of oxygen-deficient roots. Continued stomatal closure and slow leaf expansion beyond 24 h were presumably achieved by non-hydraulic means.