, Volume 206, Issue 1-3, pp 152-162

Diurnal changes in xylem pressure and mesophyll cell turgor pressure of the lianaTetrastigma voinierianum: The role of cell turgor in long-distance water transport

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Long-term xylem pressure measurements were performed on the lianaTetrastigma voinierianum (grown in a tropical greenhouse) between heights of 1 m and 9.5 m during the summer and autumn seasons with the xylem pressure probe. Simultaneously, the light intensity, the temperature, and the relative humidity were recorded at the measuring points. Parallel to the xylem pressure measurements, the diurnal changes in the cell turgor and the osmotic pressure of leaf cells at heights of 1 m and 5 m (partly also at a height of 9.5 m) were recorded. The results showed that tensions (and height-varying tension gradients) developed during the day time in the vessels mainly due to an increase in the local light intensity (at a maximum 0.4 MPa). The decrease of the local xylem pressure from positive, subatmospheric or slightly above-atmospheric values (established during the night) to negative values after daybreak was associated with an almost 1 ∶ 1 decrease in the cell turgor pressure of the mesophyll cells (on average from about 0.4 to 0.5 MPa down to 0.08 MPa). Similarly, in the afternoon the increase of the xylem pressure towards more positive values correlated with an increase in the cell turgor pressure (ratio of about 1 ∶ 1). The cell osmotic pressure remained nearly constant during the day and was about 0.75–0.85 MPa between 1 m and 9.5 m (within the limits of accuracy). These findings indicate that the turgor pressure primarily determines the corresponding pressure in the vessels (and vice versa) due to the tight hydraulic connection and thus due to the water equilibrium between both compartments. An increase in the transpiration rate (due to an increase in light intensity) results in very rapid establishment of a new equilibrium state by an equivalent decrease in the xylem and cell turgor pressure. From the xylem, cell turgor, and cell osmotic pressure data the osmotic pressure (or more accurately the water activity) of the xylem sap was calculated to be about 0.35–0.45 MPa; this value was apparently not subject to diurnal changes. Considering that the xylem pressure is determined by the turgor pressure (and vice versa), the xylem pressure of the liana could not drop to — in agreement with the experimental results — less than -0.4 MPa, because this pressure corresponds to zero turgor pressure.