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Long-distance signals regulating stomatal conductance and leaf growth in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants subjected to partial root-zone drying.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date11/2004
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Journal number407
Volume55
Number of pages11
Pages2353-2363
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Ailsa Craig) plants were grown with roots split between two soil columns. After plant establishment, water was applied daily to one (partial root-zone drying—PRD) or both (well-watered control—WW) columns. Water was withheld from the other column in the PRD treatment, to expose some roots to drying soil. Soil and plant water status were monitored daily and throughout diurnal courses. Over 8 d, there were no treatment differences in leaf water potential (leaf) even though soil moisture content of the upper 6 cm () of the dry column in the PRD treatment decreased by up to 70%. Stomatal conductance (gs) of PRD plants decreased (relative to WW plants) when of the dry column decreased by 45%. Such closure coincided with increased xylem sap pH and did not require increased xylem sap abscisic acid (ABA) concentration ([X-ABA]). Detached leaflet ethylene evolution of PRD plants increased when of the dry column decreased by 55%, concurrent with decreased leaf elongation. The physiological significance of enhanced ethylene evolution of PRD plants was examined using a transgenic tomato (ACO1AS) with low stress-induced ethylene production. In response to PRD, ACO1AS and wild-type plants showed similar xylem sap pH, [X-ABA] and gs, but ACO1AS plants showed neither enhanced ethylene evolution nor significant reductions in leaf elongation. Combined use of genetic technologies to reduce ethylene production and agronomic technologies to sustain water status (such as PRD) may sustain plant growth under conditions where yield would otherwise be significantly reduced.