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Oecologia

, Volume 161, Issue 1, pp 15–24 | Cite as

The importance of nutritional regulation of plant water flux

  • Michael D. Cramer
  • Heidi-Jayne Hawkins
  • G. Anthony Verboom
Concepts, Reviews and Syntheses

Abstract

Transpiration is generally considered a wasteful but unavoidable consequence of photosynthesis, occurring because water is lost when stomata open for CO2 uptake. Additionally, transpiration has been ascribed the functions of cooling leaves, driving root to shoot xylem transport and mass flow of nutrients through the soil to the rhizosphere. As a consequence of the link between nutrient mass flow and transpiration, nutrient availability, particularly that of NO3 , partially regulates plant water flux. Nutrient regulation of transpiration may function through the concerted regulation of: (1) root hydraulic conductance through control of aquaporins by NO3 , (2) shoot stomatal conductance (g s) through NO production, and (3) pH and phytohormone regulation of g s. These mechanisms result in biphasic responses of water flux to NO3 availability. The consequent trade-off between water and nutrient flux has important implications for understanding plant distributions, for production of water use-efficient crops and for understanding the consequences of global-change-linked CO2 suppression of transpiration for plant nutrient acquisition.

Keywords

Agriculture Elevated carbon dioxide Leaf size Nocturnal transpiration Water use efficiency 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding was from the University of Cape Town URC awards, National Research Foundation and Protea Producers of South Africa. We are grateful for useful comments from the anonymous reviewers.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Cramer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Heidi-Jayne Hawkins
    • 1
  • G. Anthony Verboom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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