The temperature dependence of shoot hydraulic resistance: implications for stomatal behaviour and hydraulic limitation


Correspondence: Steven Matzner. Fax: + 1 605 274 4718; e-mail:


Recent soil pressurization experiments have shown that stomatal closure in response to high leaf–air humidity gradients can be explained by direct feedback from leaf water potential. The more complex temperature-by-humidity interactive effects on stomatal conductance have not yet been explained fully. Measurements of the change in shoot conductance with temperature were made on Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) to test whether temperature-induced changes in the liquid-phase transport capacity could explain these temperature- by-humidity effects. In addition, shoot hydraulic resistances were partitioned within the stem and leaves to determine whether or not leaves exhibit a greater resistance. Changes in hydraulic conductance were calculated based on an Ohm’s law analogy. Whole-plant gas exchange was used to determine steady- state transpiration rates. A combination of in situ psychrometer measurements, Scholander pressure chamber measurements and psychrometric measurements of leaf punches was used to determine water potential differences within the shoot. Hydraulic conductance for each portion of the pathway was estimated as the total flow divided by the water potential difference. Temperature-induced changes in stomatal conductance were correlated linearly with temperature-induced changes in hydraulic conductance. The magnitude of the temperature-induced changes in whole-plant hydraulic conductance was sufficient to account for the interactive effects of temperature and humidity on stomatal conductance.