The kinetics of stomatal responses to VPD in Vicia faba: electrophysiological and water relations models

Authors

  • S. M. ASSMANN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, The Biological Laboratories, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  • A. GERSHENSON

    1. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, The Biological Laboratories, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Sarah M. Assmann, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, The Biological Laboratories, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Abstract

Abstract. An Ohm's law analogy is frequently employed to calculate parameters of leaf gas exchange. For example, resistance to water vapour loss is calculated as the quotient of vapour pressure difference (VPD) and vapour loss by transpiration. In the present research, this electrical analogy was extended. Steady-state transpiration as a function of VPD, assayed in leaflets of Vicia faba using gas exchange techniques, was compared with steady-state K+ current magnitude as a function of voltage in isolated guard cell protoplasts of Vicia faba, assayed using the patch clamping technique in the whole cell configuration. An electrophysiological model originally developed to explain the kinetics of current changes following step changes in voltage across a cell membrane was used to fit the kinetics of transpiration changes following step changes in VPD applied to leaflets of Vicia faba. Following step increases in VPD, transpiration exhibited an initial increase, reflecting the increased driving force for water loss and, for large step increases in VPD, a transient decrease in stomatal resistance. Transpiration subsequently declined, reflecting stomatal closure. By analogy to electrophysiological responses, it is hypothesized that the humidity parameter that is sensed by guard cells is VPD. Two models based on epidermal water relations were also applied to transpiration kinetics. In the first model, the transient increase in transpiration following a step increase in VPD was attributed partially to an increase in the Physical driving force (VPD) and partially to a transient decrease in stomatal resistance resulting from reduced epidermal backpressure. In the second model, the transient decrease in stomatal resistance was attributed to a direct response of the guard cells to VPD. Both models based on water relations gave good fits of the data, emphasizing the need for further study regarding the metabolic nature of the guard cell response to humidity.

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