Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 311–324 | Cite as

Water transport, perception, and response in plants

  • Johannes Daniel Scharwies
  • José R. DinnenyEmail author
JPR Symposium Toward unveiling plant adaptation mechanisms to environmental stresses


Sufficient water availability in the environment is critical for plant survival. Perception of water by plants is necessary to balance water uptake and water loss and to control plant growth. Plant physiology and soil science research have contributed greatly to our understanding of how water moves through soil, is taken up by roots, and moves to leaves where it is lost to the atmosphere by transpiration. Water uptake from the soil is affected by soil texture itself and soil water content. Hydraulic resistances for water flow through soil can be a major limitation for plant water uptake. Changes in water supply and water loss affect water potential gradients inside plants. Likewise, growth creates water potential gradients. It is known that plants respond to changes in these gradients. Water flow and loss are controlled through stomata and regulation of hydraulic conductance via aquaporins. When water availability declines, water loss is limited through stomatal closure and by adjusting hydraulic conductance to maintain cell turgor. Plants also adapt to changes in water supply by growing their roots towards water and through refinements to their root system architecture. Mechanosensitive ion channels, aquaporins, proteins that sense the cell wall and cell membrane environment, and proteins that change conformation in response to osmotic or turgor changes could serve as putative sensors. Future research is required to better understand processes in the rhizosphere during soil drying and how plants respond to spatial differences in water availability. It remains to be investigated how changes in water availability and water loss affect different tissues and cells in plants and how these biophysical signals are translated into chemical signals that feed into signaling pathways like abscisic acid response or organ development.


Water perception Drought stress Plant water relations Stomatal regulation Aquaporins Hydropatterning 



The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-AR 1565-1555 and in part by a Faculty Scholar grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Simons Foundation, both awarded to JRD.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Daniel Scharwies
    • 1
    • 2
  • José R. Dinneny
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution for ScienceStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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