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Keywords:

  • Caryophyllales;
  • capacitance;
  • pressure-volume curve;
  • saturated water content;
  • water relations

ABSTRACT

Quantification of succulence should ideally convey information about physiological function and yet also be straightforward to measure. While important aspects of succulence and its physiological consequences may be quantified using parameters derived from pressure–volume (P-V) curves, this technique applied to succulent tissues is difficult, time consuming and generally not suitable for large comparative datasets. We performed P-V curves on leaves of 25 taxa from across Caryophyllales and compared the results with direct measures of saturated water content (SWCmeas), the ratio of water mass at full saturation to tissue dry mass, for the same taxa. SWCmeas was significantly related to relative capacitance, the most physiologically relevant parameter describing tissue succulence. We developed a linear model describing SWCmeas as a function of relative capacitance and leaf volume, which is also supported when accounting for the phylogenetic relationships among taxa. These results indicate that SWCmeas is a suitable proxy for tissue succulence, and that both cellular properties and variation in gross morphology contribute towards a plant's relative water storage capacity. Quantifying SWCmeas across many taxa showing variation in tissue succulence will provide a new avenue for exploring the evolutionary dynamics of this important ecological adaptation.