• Abscisic acid;
  • allocation;
  • Lycopersicon esculentum;
  • mutants;
  • relative growth rate;
  • tomato;
  • water relations

Given the close relationship between a plant's growth rate and its pattern of biomass allocation and the effects of abscisic acid (ABA) on biomass allocation, we studied the influence of ABA on biomass allocation and growth rate of wildtype tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Moneymaker) plants and their strongly ABA-deficient mutant sitiens. The relative growth rate of sitiens was 22% lower than that of the wildtype, as the result of a decreased specific leaf area. The net assimilation rate and the leaf weight ratio were not affected. The mutant showed a much higher transpiration rate and lower hydraulic conductance of the roots. These two factors resulted in sitiens having a significantly lower leaf water potential and turgor. resulting in reduced leaf expansion and, consequently, a lower specific leaf area relative to the wildtype. Addition of ABA to the sitiens roots resulted in phenotypic reversion to the wildtype. We conclude that the influence of ABA-deficiency on biomass allocation and relative growth rate is the result of altered water relations in the plants, rather than of a direct effect on sink strength of different plant organs.