Measurements of plant and soil water status and their association with leaf gas exchange in banana (Musa spp.): a laticiferous plant

David Turner, D.S. Thomas

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    28 Citations (Scopus)


    The relationships between the water status of plant organs and their physiological functions are empirical. Measurements of the thermodynamic status of water in the tissues of laticiferous plants are difficult because the laticifers have positive hydraulic pressure and exude fluids when cut. We set out to determine whether reduced soil water supply affected leaf water status, measured by a number of methods, and changed primary productivity. To do this we took pressure, volume and morphological based measurements of leaf water status and recorded leaf gas exchange of banana (AAA, Cavendish subgroup cv Grand Nain) plants growing in 251 pots during a drought cycle. After 5 days of drying, soil water potential fell from -1 to -60 kPa and net photosynthesis fell to 1/10th of control values, despite few, small differences in leaf water status between irrigated and droughted plants. Net photosynthesis was proportional to stomatal closure, both being influenced by photosynthetic photon flux density (400-1400 mu mol quanta m(-2) s(-1)), as well as drying soil. Increasing the CO2 concentration in the ambient air to 1600 mu l l(-1) after 5 days of drying significantly (p less than or equal to 0.05) increased net photosynthesis from 10 to 15 mu mol CO2 m(-2) s(-1) in irrigated plants and from 0.2 to 2.0 mu mol CO2 m(-2) s(-1) in droughted plants. Thus, the restriction in photosynthesis of droughted plants was stomatal with no detectable non-stomatal component. Although changes in leaf water status were small, leaf water content, root osmotic potential, and thermodynamic measurements based on the exuding latex had stronger correlations with declining leaf gas exchange than other methods of measuring leaf-water status. Soil water status was more closely associated with changes in leaf gas exchange (r(2)=0.76) than leaf water status (r(2)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-193
    JournalScientia Horticulturae
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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