Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 317–326

Effects of water stress on gas exchange of field grown Zea mays L. in Southern Italy: an analysis at canopy and leaf level

  • Luca Vitale
  • Paul Di Tommasi
  • Carmen Arena
  • Angelo Fierro
  • Amalia Virzo De Santo
  • Vincenzo Magliulo
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11738-007-0041-6

Cite this article as:
Vitale, L., Di Tommasi, P., Arena, C. et al. Acta Physiol Plant (2007) 29: 317. doi:10.1007/s11738-007-0041-6


Zea mays is cultivated in the Mediterranean regions where summer drought may lead to photoinhibition when irrigation is not available. In this work the response of maize to water stress was evaluated by gas exchange measurements at the canopy and leaf level. Leaf gas exchange was assessed before, during and after water stress, while canopy turbulent fluxes of mass and energy were performed on a continuous basis. In the early growth period, a linear increment of net ecosystem photosynthetic rate (PNE) to incoming of photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) was found and net leaf photosynthetic rate (PNL) showed the tendency to saturate under high irradiance. During water stress, the relationship between PNE and PPFD became curvilinear and both PNE and PNL saturated in a range between 1,000 and 1,500 μmol (photons) m−2 s−1. Leaf water potential (ψl) dropped from −1.50 to −1.88 MPa during water stress, indicating that leaf and canopy gas exchanges were limited by stomatal conductance. With the restoration of irrigation, PNE, PNL and ψl showed a recovery, and PNE and PNL reached the highest values of whole study period. Leaf area index (LAI) reached a value of 3.0 m2 m−2. The relationship between PNE and PPFD remained curvilinear and PNE values were lower than those of a typical well-irrigated maize crop. The recovery in PNE and PNL after stress, and ψl values during stress indicate that the photosynthetic apparatus was not damaged while soil moisture stress after-effects resulted in a sub-optimal LAI values, which in turn depressed PNE.


Canopy Gas exchange LAI Leaf Photoinhibition Zea mays L. Water stress 

List of abbreviation


Days after sowing


Ecosystem evapotranspiration rate


Stomatal conductance


Leaf area index


Net ecosystem photosynthetic rate measured at PPFD of 1,500 ± 100 μmol m−2 s−1


Net ecosystem photosynthetic rate


Net leaf photosynthetic rate


Photosynthetic photon flux density


Ecosystem respiration


Ecosystem quantum yield for CO2 assimilation


Leaf transpiration rate

\(\Phi _{{{\text{CO}}_{{\text{2}}} }}\)

Leaf quantum yield for CO2 assimilation


Water use efficiency of canopy


Water use efficiency of leaf


Leaf water potential

Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Vitale
    • 1
  • Paul Di Tommasi
    • 2
  • Carmen Arena
    • 1
  • Angelo Fierro
    • 1
  • Amalia Virzo De Santo
    • 1
  • Vincenzo Magliulo
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e FunzionaleUniversità degli Studi di Napoli Federico IINapoliItaly
  2. 2.CNR-ISAFoMErcolano (Napoli)Italy

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