Journal Article

Determination of leaf fresh mass after storage between moist paper towels: constraints and reliability of the method

Peter Ryser, Jaclyn Bernardi and Allison Merla

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 9, pages 2461-2467
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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To ensure comparability among leaf fresh mass measurements it is important to handle the leaves in a standardized manner. In the present work constraints of a commonly used method to achieve full turgor, storage between damp paper towels, were investigated. After overnight rehydration in a saturated atmosphere, the fresh mass of leaves of 14 species was measured, and the leaves were stored between paper towels (two treatments: moist and wet) at 4 °C. Their mass was measured after 24, 48, and 72 h. Leaf fresh mass increased during the first 24 h of storage between moist paper towels by an average of 1.8%, between wet towels by 3.3%. Among the species, the increase of leaf fresh mass between moist towels correlated with the species' desiccation propensity, indicating that it was rehydration from water loss during initial handling. On the other hand, between wet towels the fresh mass increase was associated with the species' leaf tissue structure, and it continued to increase beyond 24 h, indicating that the increase was a result of water penetration into the leaf air spaces. It is concluded that storage between moist paper towels results in reliable values of leaf fresh mass, and that desiccated leaves rehydrate well between moist towels. However, care has to be taken to avoid too wet conditions as they may lead to erroneously high fresh mass values, especially in species with large air spaces. Furthermore, exposure to unsaturated atmospheric conditions during handling has to be minimized.

Keywords: Leaf dry matter content; leaf fresh mass; leaf rehydration; leaf tissue density; plant functional traits; water deficit; wetlands

Journal Article.  4159 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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