Leaf Tissue Water Relations Are Associated with Drought-Induced Leaf Shedding in Tropical Montane Habitats


In tropical montane areas, water limitation is a common occurrence, and both pioneer and forests species experience water stress during the dry season. Adjustments of leaf area during periods of drought allow for the maintenance of the water supply and physiological functions of the remaining leaves. Here, we compared leaf blade water relations between pioneer and forest tree species. Leaf pressure-volume (P-V) curves were determined from samples taken prior to the dry season, to assess how leaves of the different species were adapted to prepare for and endure water deficits. The following parameters were calculated: osmotic potential at full (Ψπ(100)) and zero (Ψπ(0)) turgor, relative water content at zero turgor (RWC0), volumetric elastic modulus (ε) as well as apoplasm (A) and symplasm (S) water content and their ratio (A/S). Although the pioneer and forest species occupied contrasting habitats, and both groups were clearly differentiated with respect to their water transport capability and water use efficiency, their leaf tissue water relations showed clear differences across species but not between the groups. Some species underwent leaf shedding and accumulated xylem embolisms during the dry season, and their leaves had high cell elasticity. Consequently, these species presented large cell volume changes with turgor loss. Conversely, species with rigid leaves were able to undergo lower leaf turgor with only small changes in cell volume during drought, which might aid to preserve leaf cell function, maintain water uptake, and consequently avoid accelerated leaf senescence and shedding during the dry season.

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Sobrado, M. (2015) Leaf Tissue Water Relations Are Associated with Drought-Induced Leaf Shedding in Tropical Montane Habitats. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 2128-2135. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.613214.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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