Plant Water Relations, Plant Stress and Plant Production

Chapter

Summary

Plant water deficit is initiated as the crop demand for water exceeds the supply. The capacity of plants to meet the demand and thus avoid water deficit depends on their “hydraulic machinery.” This machinery involves firstly the reduction of net radiation by canopy albedo, thus reflecting part of the energy load on the plant. Secondly, it determines the ability to transport sufficient amount of water from the soil to the atmosphere via the stomata (which take in CO2) in order to provide for transpiration, transpirational cooling and carbon assimilation. Water is transported by way the SPAC (soil-plant-atmosphere continuum). SPAC is largely controlled by the resistances in the continuum as determined by root, stem, leaf, stomata and cuticular hydraulic resistances. Resistances are generally a function of the plant basic anatomy, development and metabolism. Some resistance such as those of stomata is also variable depending on plant responses and environment effects.

The primary force driving water against plant resistances is the soil-to leaf gradient of water potential which is expressed in reduced leaf water potential. Reduced leaf water potential may induce osmotic adjustment which helps maintain leaf hydration at low leaf water potential. As plants enter a state of water deficit, hormones, mainly ABA are produced in the root and the shoot, causing an array of responses, most of which cannot be defined as productive in the agronomic sense. Thus, the combination of hydraulic stress and hormonal metabolism carry various impacts on plant adaptation to stress on one hand and reductions in growth and productivity on the other. The most susceptible growth stage to water deficit is flowering and reproduction, which in many crop species cannot be recovered upon rehydration. Some (not all) of the heritable plant traits and adaptive responses to water deficit can be counterproductive in term of allowing high yield potential.

Keywords

Biomass Sugar Starch Chlorophyll Carbohydrate 

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel AvivIsrael

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