Carbon Isotope Fractionation and Plant Water-Use Efficiency

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Abstract

In order for plants to grow, they must fix carbon. Carbon usually enters the leaves as carbon dioxide, diffusing through pores in the epidermis called stomata. Increased stomatal conductance, g, of leaves causes an increase in the partial pressure of CO2 inside the leaves, p i . This usually causes an increase in the rate of CO2 assimilation, A, but also allows a greater rate of transpirational water loss, E. Such an action by a plant is a gamble, because while it increases the likelihood of growth and reproductive success, it also increases the probability of desiccation and death (Cowan 1986).