Journal Article

Xylem tension affects growth-induced water potential and daily elongation of maize leaves

An-Ching Tang and John S. Boyer

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 4, pages 753-764
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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Diurnal rates of leaf elongation vary in maize (Zea mays L.) and are characterized by a decline each afternoon. The cause of the afternoon decline was investigated. When the atmospheric environment was held constant in a controlled environment, and water and nutrients were adequately supplied to the soil or the roots in solution, the decline persisted and indicated that the cause was internal. Inside the plants, xylem fluxes of water and solutes were essentially constant during the day. However, the forces moving these components changed. Tensions rose in the xylem, and gradients of growth-induced water potentials decreased in the surrounding growing tissues of the leaf. These potentials, measured with isopiestic thermocouple psychrometry, changed because the roots became less conductive to water as the day progressed. The increased tensions were reversed by applying pressure to the soil/root system, which rehydrated the leaf. Afternoon elongation immediately recovered to rapid morning rates. The rapid morning rates did not respond to soil/root pressurization. It was concluded that increased xylem tension in the afternoon diminished the gradients in growth-induced water potential and thus inhibited elongation. Because increased tensions cause a similar but larger inhibition of elongation if maize dehydrates, these hydraulics are crucial for shaping the growth-induced water potential and thus the rates of leaf elongation in maize over the entire spectrum of water availability.

Keywords: Potential field; potential gradient; transpiration; osmotic potential; turgor; Zea mays L

Journal Article.  7468 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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