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How do stomata respond to water status?

  • Author(s): Buckley, Thomas N
  • et al.

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Stomatal responses to humidity, soil moisture and other factors that influence plant water status are critical drivers of photosynthesis, productivity, water yield, ecohydrology and climate forcing, yet we still lack a thorough mechanistic understanding of these responses. Here I review historical and recent advances in stomatal water relations. Clear evidence now implicates a metabolically mediated response to leaf water status ('hydroactive feedback') in stomatal responses to evaporative demand and soil drought, possibly involving abscisic acid production in leaves. Other hypothetical mechanisms involving vapor and heat transport within leaves may contribute to humidity, light and temperature responses, but require further theoretical clarification and experimental validation. Variation and dynamics in hydraulic conductance, particularly within leaves, may contribute to water status responses. Continuing research to fully resolve mechanisms of stomatal responses to water status should focus on several areas: validating and quantifying the mechanism of leaf-based hydroactive feedback, identifying where in leaves water status is actively sensed, clarifying the role of leaf vapor and energy transport in humidity and temperature responses, and verifying foundational but minimally replicated results of stomatal hydromechanics across species. Clarity on these matters promises to deliver modelers with a tractable and reliable mechanistic model of stomatal responses to water status.

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