To open or to close: species-specific stomatal responses to simultaneously applied opposing environmental factors

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Summary

  • Plant stomatal responses to single environmental factors are well studied; however, responses to a change in two (or more) factors – a common situation in nature – have been less frequently addressed. We studied the stomatal responses to a simultaneous application of opposing environmental factors in six evolutionarily distant mono- and dicotyledonous herbs representing different life strategies (ruderals, competitors and stress-tolerators) to clarify whether the crosstalk between opening- and closure-inducing pathways leading to stomatal response is universal or species-specific.
  • Custom-made gas exchange devices were used to study the stomatal responses to a simultaneous application of two opposing factors: decreased/increased CO2 concentration and light availability or reduced air humidity.
  • The studied species responded similarly to changes in single environmental factors, but showed species-specific and nonadditive responses to two simultaneously applied opposing factors. The stomata of the ruderals Arabidopsis thaliana and Thellungiella salsuginea (previously Thellungiella halophila) always opened, whereas those of competitor-ruderals either closed in all two-factor combinations (Triticum aestivum), remained relatively unchanged (Nicotiana tabacum) or showed a response dominated by reduced air humidity (Hordeum vulgare).
  • Our results, indicating that in changing environmental conditions species-specific stomatal responses are evident that cannot be predicted from studying one factor at a time, might be interesting for stomatal modellers, too.

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