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Plant water use under heat

Project Leader
Gierlinger Notburga, BOKU Project Leader
Type of Research
Basic Research
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Biophysik
Funded by
Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) , Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
The impact of heat on plants is intrinsically tied to plant water use. Heatwaves have more than tripled, warmed by 2.3K and usually combine with drought. Under heat, stomata act at the leeway between cooling and critical water loss. Once they close, cooling ceases, leaf overheating boosts transpiration and water loss across cuticles becomes decisive. Unfortunately, permeance of cuticles rises exponentially with heat. Little is known about the structural basis of changes, whether increased cuticular transpiration is reversible and acclimation is possible. Also the tolerance to various heat doses and effect on cuticular transpiration is largely unknown.
To close these knowledge gaps plants in temperate alpine vs. tropical habitats are compared, experiencing different heat doses (intensity x duration). Thereby the following questions will be addressed: What are the habitat-specific heat doses, leaf to air temperature differences and vapor pressure deficits? Does heat dose affect heat survival? Which heat dose, vapor pressure deficits and plant water potential closes stomata? How does cuticular transpiration respond to various heat doses and vapor pressure deficits? Are heat-induced changes of cuticular transpiration reversible? Does heat exposure alter cuticle structure? Does excess water loss explain heat damage?
So the project explores the reversibility and acclimation potential of heat treshold of cuticular transpirationt by different approaches. To get insights into the cuticle of plants from cold vs. hot habitats RAMAN microscopy and transmission electron microscopy will be applied. Reaching from laboratory to the field and from molecules to individuals, the study promises comprehensively new insights into heat survival of plants. Results will be important to assess the future heat risk to plants in a globally warmer world.
Microanalysis; Spectroscopy ; Biophysics; Botany; Plant ecology; Bionics;
heat dose; heat stress tolerance; heat wave; cuticle permeance; drought stress;
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