Regular paper

Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 327-336

First online:

The efficiency of water use in water stressed plants is increased due to ABA induced stomatal closure

  • Barbara SteuerAffiliated withFB Biologie der Universität
  • , Thomas StuhlfauthAffiliated withFB Biologie der Universität
  • , Heinrich P. FockAffiliated withFB Biologie der Universität

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Gas exchange and abscisic acid content of Digitalis lanata EHRH. have been examined at different levels of plant water stress. Net photosynthesis, transpiration and conductance of attached leaves declined rapidly at first, then more slowly following the withholding of irrigation. The intercellular partial pressure of CO2 decreased slightly. The concentration of 2-cis(S)ABA increased about eight-fold in the leaves of non-irrigated plants as compared with well-watered controls. A close linear correlation was found between the ABA content of the leaves and their conductance on a leaf area basis. In contrast, the plot of net assimilation versus ABA concentration was curvilinear, leading to an increased efficiency of water use during stress. After rewatering, photosynthesis reached control values earlier than transpiration, leaf conductance and ABA content. From these data it is concluded that transpiration through the stomata is directly controlled by the ABA content, whereas net photosynthesis is influenced additionally by other factors.

Possible reasons for the responses of photosynthesis and water use efficiency to different stress and ABA levels are discussed.

Key words

abscisic acid Digitalis lanata intercellular CO2 concentration leaf water potential photosynthesis water use efficiency