Stomatal Behavior and Water Status of Maize, Sorghum, and Tobacco under Field Conditions: I. At High Soil Water Potential


Diurnal changes in the vertical profiles of irradiance incident upon the adaxial leaf surface (I), stomatal resistance (rs), leaf water potential (ψ), osmotic potential (π), and turgor potential (P) were followed concurrently in crops of maize (Zea mays L. var. Pa 602A), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench var. RS610), and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. var. Havanna Seed 211) on several days in 1968 to 1970 when soil water potentials were high. In all three crops the rs, measured with a ventilated diffusion porometer, the ψ, measured with the pressure chamber, the π, measured with a vapor pressure osmometer, and the calculated P, decreased from sunrise to reach minimum values near midday and then increased again in the afternoon. The diurnal range of all the variables was greater for leaves in the upper canopy than for those in the lower canopy. P was observed to decrease with decreasing ψ, but never became zero. Sorghum had a higher P at a ψ of, say −10 bars, than did maize, and maize had a higher P than tobacco at the same ψ. Moreover, at the same ψ the upper leaves in all canopies had a higher P than the lower leaves. When compared at high irradiances, rs did not increase as ψ declined to −13, −15, and −10 bars or as P declined to 0.3, 3.5, and 1.2 bars in maize, sorghum, and tobacco, respectively. The relation between rs and I in the upper, nonsenescent leaves of all three crops fits a hyperbolic curve, but the response varied with species and leaf senescence. The adaxial and abaxial epidermises had the same response of rs to I in maize and sorghum, whereas in tobacco the adaxial epidermis had a higher rs than the abaxial epidermis at all values of I. At equal values of I, tobacco had the lowest leaf resistance (rl) and maize had the highest rl. Senescent maize leaves had nonfunctional stomata, whereas the lowermost sorghum leaves had higher stomatal resistances on average than the other leaves.

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