Plant water content is a simple and promising parameter for monitoring drought-driven plant mortality risk. However, critical water content thresholds leading to cell damage and plant failure are still unknown. Moreover, it is unclear whether whole-plant or a specific organ water content is the most reliable indicator of mortality risk. We assessed differences in dehydration thresholds in leaf, stem and root samples, hampering the organ-specific rehydration capacity and increasing the mortality risk. We also tested eventual differences between a fast experimental dehydration of uprooted plants, compared to long-term water stress induced by withholding irrigation in potted plants. We investigated three species with different growth forms and leaf habits i.e., Helianthus annuus (herbaceous), Populus nigra (deciduous tree) and Quercus ilex (evergreen tree). Results obtained by the two dehydration treatments largely overlapped, thus validating bench dehydration as a fast but reliable method to assess species-specific critical water content thresholds. Regardless of the organ considered, a relative water content value of 60% induced significant cell membrane damage and loss of rehydration capacity, thus leading to irreversible plant failure and death.

Critical water contents at leaf, stem and root level leading to irreversible drought-induced damage in two woody and one herbaceous species

Petruzzellis, Francesco;Nardini, Andrea
2023-01-01

Abstract

Plant water content is a simple and promising parameter for monitoring drought-driven plant mortality risk. However, critical water content thresholds leading to cell damage and plant failure are still unknown. Moreover, it is unclear whether whole-plant or a specific organ water content is the most reliable indicator of mortality risk. We assessed differences in dehydration thresholds in leaf, stem and root samples, hampering the organ-specific rehydration capacity and increasing the mortality risk. We also tested eventual differences between a fast experimental dehydration of uprooted plants, compared to long-term water stress induced by withholding irrigation in potted plants. We investigated three species with different growth forms and leaf habits i.e., Helianthus annuus (herbaceous), Populus nigra (deciduous tree) and Quercus ilex (evergreen tree). Results obtained by the two dehydration treatments largely overlapped, thus validating bench dehydration as a fast but reliable method to assess species-specific critical water content thresholds. Regardless of the organ considered, a relative water content value of 60% induced significant cell membrane damage and loss of rehydration capacity, thus leading to irreversible plant failure and death.
2023
16-ott-2022
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3036381
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