The aim of the present work was to compare the physiological responses to water stress and recovery of seedlings and saplings of three different Mediterranean species (Olea europaea var. sylvestris, Rhamnus alaternus and Cneorum tricoccon), pre-conditioning and aged in nursery and presenting different ages and pot sizes. Our hypothesis was that the ratio of plant size to soil volume (which constrains root development leading to low root-to-shoot ratios) rather than any of the two factors separately determines the seedling response to water stress. Seedlings (1-y) and saplings (3 to 4-y) were transplanted into pots bigger than those used during growth in the nursery and irrigation was stopped to each species x age/size combination. Leaf water potential (psi), net CO(2) assimilation (A(N)), stomatal (g(s)) and mesophyll (g(m)) conductances, and the rate of photosynthetic electron transport (ETR) were determined every few days. Plants were re-watered when A(N) dropped below 70% of control values. Saplings of each species presented larger total leaf area (TLA) and reached lower psi than seedlings. Even under irrigation, saplings showed lower A(N), which was not related to g(s) but to lower g(m) and ETR. During water stress, A(N) decreased slowly in seedlings due to stomatal limitations, while in saplings it decreased fast and mainly associated to non-stomatal limitations (g(m) and ETR). Upon re-watering, seedlings recovered maximum A(N) within a few days, while recovery was slow and incomplete in saplings. At the end of the experiment, significant leaf die-back occurred in saplings but not in seedlings except for Cneorum. The minimum psi achieved during water stress was strongly linearly related to TLA when pooling all species and ages, and leaf die-back was strongly dependent on psi and on the appearance of non-stomatal limitations to photosynthesis. Therefore, we conclude that the total amount of leaf area for a given volume of substrate (i.e., maximum water availability), rather than plants pre-conditioning in nurseries or plant age, determines seedling/sapling responses to water stress and re-watering in Mediterranean species. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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|Titolo:||Stomatal and non-stomatal limitations to photosynthesis in seedlings and saplings of Mediterranean species pre-conditioned and aged in nurseries: Different response to water stress|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2012|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|