Critical Water Potential for Stomatal Closure in Sitka Spruce


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Steady state rates of net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance at high water potentials were measured under controlled conditions in a leaf chamber on Sitka spruce [Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.] shoots detached from the forest canopy or on seedlings. The water supply to the seedlings was terminated by excision and the shoot water potential (or critical water potential) and osmotic potential at the onset of stomatal closure measured. The turgor potential was calculated. The initial osmotic potential before insertion of the shoot into the chamber was also measured. Shoot water potential and osmotic potential at stomatal closure, and initial osmotic potential were significantly higher (less negative) in foliage from the lowest level in the canopy compared with foliage in the upper canopy, and higher in shoots of seedlings transferred to low light than in those at high light. Critical water potential also varied with season, being higher in July than in October and November. In all except one instance, turgor potential at the onset of stomatal closure was negative, possibly because of dilution of the cell sap by the extracellular water during the estimate of osmotic potential. Over all the experiments variation in critical water potential was correlated with variation in critical osmotic potential and, to a lesser extent, the initial osmotic potential. However, turgor potential at the critical potential varied from +0.6 to ‐4.6 bar. This suggests that difference in turgor between the guard cells and subsidiary cells, which controls stomatal aperture, is only loosely coupled with the bulk leaf turgor and hence that bulk leaf turgor is not a good index of the turbor relations of the guard cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-165
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes


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