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Research article2007Peer reviewedOpen access

Variation in drought resistance, drought acclimation and water conservation in four willow cultivars used for biomass production

Wikbergi J, Ogreni E


Growth and water-use parameters of four willow (Salix spp.) clones grown in a moderate drought regime or with ample water supply were determined to characterize their water-use efficiency, drought resistance and capacity for drought acclimation. At the end of the 10-week, outdoor pot experiment, clonal differences were observed in: (1) water-use efficiency of aboveground biomass production (WUE); (2) resistance to xylem cavitation; and (3) stomatal conductance to leaf-specific, whole-plant hydraulic conductance ratio (g(st)/K-p; art indicator of water balance). Across clones and regimes, WUE was positively correlated with the assimilation rate to stomatal conductance ratio (A/g(st)), a measure of instantaneous water-use efficiency. Both of these water-use efficiency indicators were generally higher in drought-treated trees compared with well-watered trees. However, the between-treatment differences in (shoot-based) WUE were smaller than expected, considering the differences in A/g(st) for two of the clones, possibly because plants reallocated dry mass from shoots to roots when subject to drought. Higher root hydraulic conductance to shoot hydraulic conductance ratios (K-R/K-s) during drought Supports this hypothesis. The same clones were also the most sensitive to xylem cavitation and, accordingly, showed the strongest reduction in g(st)/K-p in response to drought. Drought acclimation was manifested in decreased g(st), g(st)/K-p, osmotic potential and leaf area to vessel internal cross-sectional area ratio, and increased K-R, K-p and WUE. Increased resistance to stem xylem cavitation in response to drought was observed in only one clone. It is concluded that WUE and drought resistance traits are inter-linked and that both may be enhanced by selection and breeding

Published in

Tree Physiology
2007, Volume: 27, number: 9, pages: 1339-1346