, Volume 88, Issue 1, pp 41–47

Influence of soil drying on root development, water relations and leaf growth of Ceratonia siliqua L.

  • S. Rhizopoulou
  • W. J. Davies
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00328401

Cite this article as:
Rhizopoulou, S. & Davies, W.J. Oecologia (1991) 88: 41. doi:10.1007/BF00328401


Seedlings of Ceratonia siliqua L., an evergreen sclerophyll species native to the Mediterranean region, were grown in 30-cm deep tubes of John Innes II potting compost in a growth cabinet maintained at 15° C during a 12-h day where PAR was 400 μmol m−2 s−1. After a period of acclimatisation to the conditions in the cabinet during which plants were watered every day, water was withheld from the soil in some tubes for 24 days. These conditions may be regarded as a simulation of the natural situation. Estimates of leaf and root water potential and solute potential, leaf growth and root development were made at intervals during the soil drying cycle on both watered and unwatered plants. Water potential and solute potential measurements were made both on young expanding and on fully expanded leaves. During the experimental period, root growth of C. siliqua was not much affected by soil drying, and roots in both the watered and the unwatered columns penetrated to the bottom of the soil tubes by the end of the drying treatment. Expanded leaves showed significant limitation in stomatal conductance as soil drying progressed. Leaf water potential of fully expanded leaves of unwatered plants declined substantially. In contrast, water potential of young expanding leaves on unwatered plants declined to only a limited extent and turgor was sustained. As the soil dried, stomatal conductance of young leaves was always higher than that of mature leaves; also, placticity and elasticity of young leaves slowly decreased whereas mature leaves became stiff. Changing leaf cell wall properties may determine different patterns of water use as the leaves age. A mechanism of continuous diffusion of water through the soil towards the tip and pumping towards the young leaves is proposed.

Key words

Water relationsLeaf extensibilityRoot distributionCeratonia siliqua

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Rhizopoulou
    • 1
  • W. J. Davies
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of General BotanyUniversity of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Division of Biological SciencesLancaster UniversityLancasterUK