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Acclimation of hydraulic and morphological traits to water deficit delays hydraulic failure during simulated drought in poplar


Lemaire, C and Blackman, C and Cochard, H and Eduardo Menezes-Silva, P and Torres-Ruiz, JM and Herbette, S, Acclimation of hydraulic and morphological traits to water deficit delays hydraulic failure during simulated drought in poplar, Tree physiology, 41, (11) pp. 2008-2021. ISSN 1758-4469 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1093/treephys/tpab086


he capacity of trees to tolerate and survive increasing drought conditions in situ will depend in part on their ability to acclimate (via phenotypic plasticity) key hydraulic and morphological traits that increase drought tolerance and delay the onset of drought-induced hydraulic failure. However, the effect of water-deficit acclimation in key traits that determine time to hydraulic failure (THF) during extreme drought remains largely untested. We measured key hydraulic and morphological traits in saplings of a hybrid poplar grown under well-watered and water-limited conditions. The time for plants to dry-down to critical levels of water stress (90% loss of stem hydraulic conductance), as well as the relative contribution of drought acclimation in each trait to THF, was simulated using a soil-plant hydraulic model (SurEau). Compared with controls, water-limited plants exhibited significantly lower stem hydraulic vulnerability (P50stem), stomatal conductance and total canopy leaf area (LA). Taken together, adjustments in these and other traits resulted in longer modelled THF in water-limited (~160 h) compared with well-watered plants (~50 h), representing an increase of more than 200%. Sensitivity analysis revealed that adjustment in P50stem and LA contributed the most to longer THF in water-limited plants. We observed a high degree of trait plasticity in poplar saplings in response to water-deficit growth conditions, with decreases in stem hydraulic vulnerability and leaf area playing a key role in delaying the onset of hydraulic failure during a simulated drought event. These findings suggest that understanding the capacity of plants to acclimate to antecedent growth conditions will enable better predictions of plant survivorship during future drought.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:drought, plant hydraulics, cavitation, model, forest
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Blackman, C (Dr Christopher Blackman)
ID Code:155700
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2023-03-07
Last Modified:2023-03-07

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