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Keywords:

  • CO2 compensation point;
  • dark respiration;
  • mesophyll resistance;
  • stomatal resistance;
  • transpiration

Net photosynthesis, transpiration, dark respiration rates and stomatal and mesophyll resistances were studied in young potted seedlings of Pinus halepensis Mill. under gradually decreasing soil and leaf water potentials. Stomatal resistance under non-limiting xylem water potentials was 6–7 times higher than mesophyll resistance. Stomata started to close at threshold xylem water potentials of −0.8 MPa, whereas mesophyll resistance started to increase at about −1.4 MPa. Decreasing xylem water potentials increased the CO2 compensation point and decreased the water use efficiency (expressed by the photosynthesis to transpiration ratio) and dark respiration rate. It is concluded that at least part of the drought resistance characteristics of P. halepensis are associated with a sensitive stomatal mechanism which enables an efficient control of water loss.