A field portable method for the semi-quantitative estimation of dehydration tolerance of photosynthetic tissues across distantly related land plants
Lopez-Pozo, M and Flexas, J and Gulias, J and Carriqui, M and Nadal, M and Perera-Castro, AV and Clemente-Moreno, MJ and Gago, J and Nunez-Olivera, E and Martinez-Abaigar, J and Hernandez, A and Artetxe, U and Bentley, J and Farrant, JM and Verhoeven, A and Garcia-Plazaola, JI and Fernandez-Marin, B, A field portable method for the semi-quantitative estimation of dehydration tolerance of photosynthetic tissues across distantly related land plants, Physiologia Plantarum pp. 1-16. ISSN 0031-9317 (2019) [Refereed Article]
Desiccation tolerant (DT) plants withstand complete cellular dehydration, reaching relative water contents (RWC) below 30% in their photosynthetic tissues. Desiccation sensitive (DS) plants exhibit different degrees of dehydration tolerance (DHT), never surviving water loss >70%. To date, no procedure for the quantitative evaluation of DHT extent exists that is able to discriminate DS species with differing degrees of DHT from truly DT plants. We developed a simple, feasible and portable protocol to differentiate between DT and different degrees of DHT in the photosynthetic tissues of seed plants and between fast desiccation (< 24 h) tolerant (FDT) and sensitive (FDS) bryophytes. The protocol is based on (1) controlled desiccation inside Falcon tubes equilibrated at three different relative humidities that, consequently, induce three different speeds and extents of dehydration and (2) an evaluation of the average percentage of maximal photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/fm) recovery after rehydration. Applying the method to 10 bryophytes and 28 tracheophytes from various locations, we found that (1) imbibition of absorbent material with concentrated salt‐solutions inside the tubes provides stable relative humidity and avoids direct contact with samples; (2) for 50 ml capacity tubes, the optimal plant amount is 50–200 mg fresh weight; (3) the method is useful in remote locations due to minimal instrumental requirements; and (4) a threshold of 30% recovery of the initial Fv/fm upon reaching RWC ≤ 30% correctly categorises DT species, with three exceptions: two poikilochlorophyllous species and one gymnosperm. The protocol provides a semi‐quantitative expression of DHT that facilitates comparisons of species with different morpho‐physiological traits and/or ecological attributes.