The apparent feed-forward response to vapour pressure deficit of stomata in droughted, field-grown Eucalyptus globulus Labill

Authors

  • C. MACFARLANE,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Plant Biology (M090), Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, W.A. 6009, Australia,
      Craig Macfarlane. Fax: + 61 86488 7925; e-mail: cmacfarl@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
    Search for more papers by this author
  • D. A. WHITE,

    1. CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences, PO Box 5 Wembley, W.A. 6913, Australia and
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. A. ADAMS

    1. The Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

Craig Macfarlane. Fax: + 61 86488 7925; e-mail: cmacfarl@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

ABSTRACT

This study tested a multiplicative model of stomatal response to environment for drought-affected trees of Eucalyptus globulus Labill. growing in southern Australia. The model incorporates a feed-forward response to vapour pressure deficit of ambient air (δea) and performed well if evaluated using reduced major axis regression and log-transformed   data.   There   was   strong   evidence   from gas-exchange data, leaf water potentials and sapflow measurements of the feed-forward response by stomata to leaf-to-air vapour pressure deficit (δel). The response of stomata to δel was irreversible. Stomatal conductance and the rate of net photosynthesis were highly correlated and declined, together with the rate of transpiration, throughout the afternoon as δea increased despite increasing leaf water potentials. The concentration of CO2 inside leaves (ci) increased as stomatal conductance declined indicating increasing non-stomatal limitations to photosynthesis. The stomatal response to δel of E. globulus in the field is best described as an ‘apparent feed-forward response’ that probably results from both slowly reversible depression of net photosynthesis and abscisic acid accumulation in guard cells. We suggest that the stomatal response to ci may strengthen the link between photosynthetic capacity and stomatal conductance during leaf drying as a result of either drought or large δel.

Ancillary