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Abstract

Abiotic stresses such as drought, are the main factors for forest declines globally. There is therefore an increasing interest in understanding the mechanisms underlying tree adaptations and survival to water deprivation. Angiosperm tree species demonstrate an amazing phenotypic plasticity. They sense and respond to adverse changing environmental conditions via a series of physiological, cellular, and molecular processes which are under a tight genetic control. In this book chapter, first we present some key morphological and anatomical features adopted by angiosperm tree species to survive drought. These traits are described at the roots, stem and shoots levels. Then, we provide insights into the dynamics of gene expression and components of regulatory networks associated with drought response, including comparisons among angiosperm tree species. Such comparative genomic approaches have the potential to provide a better understanding of the evolution and diversification process of drought response in angiosperm trees but also to the development of cultivars resilient to drought and other abiotic stresses.

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Glossary

Isohydric water-balance behavior

 involves the maintenance of a constant leaf water potential at midday, even under drought conditions. In contrast, plants exhibiting anisohydric behavior can markedly decrease water potentials following the evaporative demand experienced during the day. This permits lower leaf water potentials in the presence of drought stress.

Mesophyll conductance (gm)

 estimates the restriction to the influx of carbon dioxide from the leaf internal airspace to the site of carboxylation. Together with stomatal conductance, it constitutes a crucial component of the diffusive limitation of photosynthesis.

Ψcrit

 critical xylem water potential, beyond which hydraulic failure is likely to occur, expressed in megapascals (MPa)

Ψsoil

 soil water potential (MPa)

Stomatal conductance

 usually measured in mmol m−2 s−1, is the measure of the rate of water vapor exiting through the stomata of a leaf, from which one can estimate the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) entering.

Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD)

 is the difference between the amount of moisture in the air and saturated vapour pressure, i.e. how much moisture the air can hold when it is saturated, at a certain temperature.

Water use Efficiency (WUE)

 represents the tradeoff between C assimilation and water loss, expressed as the ratio of C assimilated, e.g. in term of biomass or photosynthetic rate, to the rate of transpiration.

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Bastiaanse, H., Théroux-Rancourt, G., Tixier, A. (2017). Abiotic Stress. In: Groover, A., Cronk, Q. (eds) Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics of Angiosperm Trees. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models, vol 21. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/7397_2016_13

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