, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 371–378 | Cite as

Stomatal conductance and leaf water potential responses to hydraulic conductance variation in Pinus pinaster seedlings

  • Francesco RipulloneEmail author
  • Maria Rosa Guerrieri
  • Angelo Nole’
  • Federico Magnani
  • Marco Borghetti
Original Paper


In this study, tree hydraulic conductance (K tree) was experimentally manipulated to study effects on short-term regulation of stomatal conductance (g s), net photosynthesis (A) and bulk leaf water potential (Ψleaf) in well watered 5–6 years old and 1.2 m tall maritime pine seedlings (Pinus pinaster Ait.). K tree was decreased by notching the stem and increased by progressively excising the root system and stem. Gas exchange was measured in a chamber at constant irradiance, vapour pressure deficit, leaf temperature and ambient CO2 concentration. As expected, we found a strong and positive relationship between g s and K tree (r = 0.92, P = 0.0001) and between A and K tree (r = 0.9, P = 0.0001). In contrast, however, we found that the response of Ψleaf to K tree depended on the direction of change in K tree: increases in K tree caused Ψleaf to decrease from around −1.0 to −0.6 MPa, but reductions in K tree were accompanied by homeostasis in Ψleaf (at −1 MPa). Both of these observations could be explained by an adaptative feedback loop between g s and Ψleaf, with Ψleaf prevented from declining below the cavitation threshold by stomatal closure. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the observed stomatal responses were mediated by leaf water status, but they also suggest that the stomatal sensitivity to water status increased dramatically as Ψleaf approached −1 MPa.


Gas exchange Hydraulic conductance manipulation Isohydric behavior Leaf water status Stomatal regulation 



This research was granted by the COFIN-2003 project (Drought and Mediterranean forests: stomatal mechanisms in the regulation of plant gas exchanges) funded by the Italian M.I.U.R. The technical assistance in field work of A. Lapolla is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Prof. Paul Kriedman and Dr. Tom Buckley for helpful comments and valuable criticism of the manuscript. We would like also to thank the Regione Campania (Vivaio Pino Amato—Baia e Latina—Caserta) for the gift of Pinus pinaster plants utilized in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Ripullone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Rosa Guerrieri
    • 1
  • Angelo Nole’
    • 1
  • Federico Magnani
    • 2
  • Marco Borghetti
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dei Sistemi Colturali, Forestali e dell’AmbienteUniversità della BasilicataPotenzaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Colture ArboreeUniversita’ di BolognaBolognaItaly

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