Signal coordination before, during and after stomatal closure in response to drought stress

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© 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust Signal coordination in response to changes in water availability remains unclear, as does the role of embolism events in signaling drought stress. Sunflowers were exposed to two drought treatments of varying intensity while simultaneously monitoring changes in stomatal conductance, acoustic emissions (AE), turgor pressure, surface-level electrical potential, organ-level water potential and leaf abscisic acid (ABA) concentration. Leaf, stem and root xylem vulnerability to embolism were measured with the single vessel injection technique. In both drought treatments, it was found that AE events and turgor changes preceded the onset of stomatal closure, whereas electrical surface potentials shifted concurrently with stomatal closure. Leaf-level ABA concentration did not change until after stomata were closed. Roots and petioles were equally vulnerable to drought stress based on the single vessel injection technique. However, anatomical analysis of the xylem indicated that the increased AE events were not a result of xylem embolism formation. Additionally, roots and stems never reached a xylem pressure threshold that would initiate runaway embolism throughout the entire experiment. It is concluded that stomatal closure was not embolism-driven, but, rather, that onset of stomatal closure was most closely correlated with the hydraulic signal from changes in leaf turgor.

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New Phytologist

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