How Populus euphratica utilizes dew in an extremely arid region

  • Ying Zhang
  • Xingming HaoEmail author
  • Haitao Sun
  • Ding Hua
  • Jingxiu Qin
Regular Article



Dew is an important water source of plants in semi-arid and arid regions. However, there is not much evidence that this process is ecologically relevant for plants, especially in extremely desert riparian forest areas. We want to answer three key questions: 1) what are the positive effects of dew on plant growth? 2) Can the leaves absorb and use dew directly? 3) If the leaves can absorb dew, how is the absorbed water allocated?


We designed a two-factor control and stable isotope experiment to reveal the physiological and ecological responses of Populus euphratica seedlings to three different amounts of dew under different soil water contents.


The leaf biomass, height growth, and the surface area of roots differed significantly between different amounts of dew under different levels of drought stress. Under different levels of drought stress, the Delta deuterium (δD) value of plant, and soil water of seedlings in the dew treatment was significantly higher than that in the untreated group. Populus euphratica seedlings can absorb dew by direct foliar uptake and can redistribute the dew among plant organs and even the soil.


Dew treatments significantly promoted the growth and development and the fluorescence parameters (ФPSII, ETR) of leaves of seedlings, especially under the soil moisture sufficient condition and under moderate drought. Obviously, the absorption and distribution of dew on leaves of Populus euphratica improved the soil moisture condition in the growing season and are important survival strategies for Populus euphratica to adjust to short-term drought.


Dew Populus euphratica seedlings Physiological and ecological responses Stable isotope tracing 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571109) and the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA20100303).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare that the data of this manuscript is reliable and the results are credible. This manuscript has not been published and will not be submitted elsewhere for publication while being considered by Plant and Soil. The manuscript has not been discussed with a Plant and Soil prior to submission.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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