Photosynthetic gas exchange and the stable isotope composition of leaf water: comparison of a xylem-tapping mistletoe and its host


Lawrence B. Flanagan, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario KIS 5B6, Canada.


Photosynthetic gas exchange and the stable isotopic composition of foliage water were measured for a xylem tapping mistletoe, Phoradendron juniperinum, and its host tree, Juniperus osteosperma, growing in southern Utah. The observed isotopic composition of water extracted from foliage was compared to predictions of the Craig-Gordon model of isotopic enrichment at evaporative sites within leaves. Assimilation rates of juniper were higher and stomatal conductance was lower than the values observed for the mistletoe. This resulted in lower intercellular/ ambient CO2 values in the juniper tree relative to its mistletoe parasite. For mistletoe, the observed foliage water hydrogen and oxygen isotopic enrichment was less than that predicted by the model. In juniper, foliage water hydrogen isotopic enrichment was also lower than that predicted by the evaporative enrichment model. In contrast, the oxygen isotopic enrichment in juniper foliage water was slightly greater than that predicted for the evaporative sites within leaves. Hydrogen isotopic enrichment in mistletoe foliage shows systematic variation with stem segment, being highest near the tips of the youngest stems and decreasing toward the base of the mistletoe, where isotopic composition is close to that of stem water in the host tree. In a correlated pattern, mid-day stomatal conductance declined abruptly in mistletoe foliage of increasing age.