An empirical model for stomatal conductance (g), proposed by Leuning (1995, this issue) as a modification of Ball, Woodrow & Berry's (1987) model, is interpreted in terms of a simple, steady-state model of guard cell function. In this model, stomatal aperture is a function of the relative turgor between guard cells and epidermal cells. The correlation between g and leaf surface vapour pressure deficit in Leuning's model is interpreted in terms of stomatal sensing of the transpiration rate, via changes in the gradient of total water potential between guard cells and epidermal cells. The correlation between g, CO2 assimilation rate and leaf surface CO2 concentration in Leuning's model is interpreted as a relationship between the corresponding osmotic gradient, irradiance, temperature, intercellular CO2 concentration and stomatal aperture itself. The explicit relationship between osmotic gradient and stomatal aperture (possibly describing the effect of changes in guard cell volume on the membrane permeability for ion transport) results in a decrease in the transpiration rate in sufficiently dry air. Possible extension of the guard cell model to include stomatal responses to soil water status is discussed.
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