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Evolution of stomatal closure to optimize water-use efficiency in response to dehydration in ferns and seed plants


Yang, Y-J and Bi, M-H and Nie, Z-F and Jiang, H and Lui, X-D and Fang, X-W and Brodribb, TJ, Evolution of stomatal closure to optimize water-use efficiency in response to dehydration in ferns and seed plants, New Phytologist, 230, (5) pp. 2001-2010. ISSN 1469-8137 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.17278


  • Plants control water-use efficiency (WUE) by regulating water loss and CO2 diffusion through stomata. Variation in stomatal control has been reported among lineages of vascular plants, thus giving rise to the possibility that different lineages may show distinct WUE dynamics in response to water stress.
  • Here, we compared the response of gas exchange to decreasing leaf water potential among four ferns and nine seed plant species exposed to a gradually intensifying water deficit. The data collected were combined with those from 339 phylogenetically diverse species obtained from previous studies.
  • In well-watered angiosperms, the maximum stomatal conductance was high and greater than that required for maximum WUE, but drought stress caused a rapid reduction in stomatal conductance and an increase in WUE in response to elevated concentrations of abscisic acid. However, in ferns, stomata did not open beyond the optimum point corresponding to maximum WUE and actually exhibited a steady WUE in response to dehydration. Thus, seed plants showed improved photosynthetic WUE under water stress.
  • The ability of seed plants to increase WUE could provide them with an advantage over ferns under drought conditions, thereby presumably increasing their fitness under selection pressure by drought.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:abscisic acid (ABA), drought stress, fern, seed plant, stomatal conductance, water-use efficiency
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable plant production
Objective Field:Management of water consumption by plant production
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
ID Code:146712
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP170100103)
Web of Science® Times Cited:20
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-09-22
Last Modified:2022-08-20

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