We present the first study of abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations and fluxes in the xylem sap of conifers during a drought cycle. In both Pinus sylvestris and Picea sitchensis the concentration of ABA in the sap rose 11-fold as the drought progressed. There were clear diurnal trends in this concentration, which reached its maximum (6–8.ininol ABA m−3) near the middle of the day. The fluxes of ABA were calculated by multiplying the xylem ABA concentration by the sap flow rate. The ABA fluxes in the droughted plants in the middle of the day were usually no higher than those of the controls, as a result of the very low sap flow in the droughted plants at that time. However, the ABA flux in the droughted plants was higher than in the controls in the morning, and we postulate that the stomata are responding to these ‘morning doses’
Stomatal conductance, gs, could not be related statistically to leaf turgor or to the ABA flux. However, £s did display a negative exponential relationship with ABA concentration in the xylem.
Pinus displayed more acclimation to drought than Picea, Its ABA concentration rose and its stomatal conductance fell at day 6 of the drought, as opposed to day 17 for Picea, and its osmotic potential fell during the drought treatment.