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Factors controlling plasticity of leaf morphology in Robinia pseudoacacia: III. biophysical constraints on leaf expansion under long-term water stress

Authors

  • Yanxiang Zhang,

    1. Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    2. Department of Renewable Resources, 444 ESB, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3
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  • Maria Alejandra Equiza,

    1. Department of Renewable Resources, 444 ESB, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3
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  • Quanshui Zheng,

    1. Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
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  • Melvin T. Tyree

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Renewable Resources, 444 ESB, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3
    2. Northern Research Station, US Forest Service, South Burlington, VT 05403, USA
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e-mail: mel.tyree@ales.ualberta.ca

Abstract

In this article, we measured the relative growth rate (RGR) of leaves of Robinia pseudoacacia seedlings under well-watered and water-stressed conditions (mid-day Ψw = leaf water potential estimated with a pressure bomb of −0.48 and −0.98 MPa, respectively). Pressure–volume (PV) curves were done on growing leaves at 25, 50 and 95% of the mature size (growth stage) in order to compute solute potential (Ψ) and turgor pressure (ΨP) as a function of Ψw. The PV curves and diurnal measurements of Ψw and RGR allowed us to evaluate the parameters (cell wall extensibility m and growth turgor threshold Y) of the Lockhart equation, RGR = m(ΨP− Y), at each growth stage. Our data showed that m and Y did change with leaf age, but the changes were slow enough to evaluate m and Y on any given day. We believe this is the first study to provide evidence that the Lockhart equation adequately quantifies leaf growth of trees over a range of time domains. The value of m linearly declined and Y linearly increased with growth stage. Also, mild drought stress caused a decline in m and increase in Y relative to controls. Although water stress caused an osmotic adjustment which, in turn, increased ΨP in stressed plants relative to controls, the RGR and final leaf sizes were reduced in water-stressed plants because of the impact of water stress on decreased m and increased Y.

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