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Plant and Soil

, Volume 444, Issue 1–2, pp 281–298 | Cite as

Whole-plant instantaneous and short-term water-use efficiency in response to soil water content and CO2 concentration

  • Yonge Zhang
  • Xinxiao YuEmail author
  • Lihua Chen
  • Guodong Jia
Regular Article
  • 141 Downloads

Abstract

Aims

Water-use efficiency (WUE) is a key parameter to understand plant survival strategies and promote forest management in response to climate change. Here, the whole-plant instantaneous WUE (WUEi-P) and short-term WUE (WUEs-P) were investigated in response to soil water content (SWC) and atmosphere CO2 concentration (Ca).

Methods

The WUEi-P was measured using a plant chamber and mini-lysimeters. The WUEs-P was estimated using different isotopic models. These estimates were compared with measured results (WUEs-P,mea; the ratio of the whole-plant cumulative CO2 assimilation to water loss).

Results

Except at severe drought, WUEi-P generally decreased with increasing SWC, but increased with increasing Ca. At mild and moderate drought, the percentage increases in WUEi-P by elevating Ca from 600 to 800 μmol·mol−1 (23.45%–32.78%) were higher than those from 400 to 600 μmol·mol−1 (9.12%–8.33%). However, the opposite pattern was found under well- and excessive-watered conditions. The variation in WUEs-P,mea in response to Ca × SWC was similar to that in WUEi-P. The developed whole-plant isotopic model (i.e. the plant classical model) is based on the hypothesis that the mesophyll conductance (gm) should be considered to model whole-plant WUE. This model provided the best fit with WUEs-P,mea compared with previously proposed models (plant linear model, as well as leaf linear and classical model). This indicated that the contribution of gm, whole-plant respiration, and unproductive water loss should be considered when scaling from leaf to whole-plant level.

Conclusions

These results have implications for mechanisms of plant water and carbon cycles and improve predictive capability for whole-plant WUE from δ13C.

Keywords

Carbon isotope Mesophyll conductance Transpiration Water-use efficiency Whole-plant 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2019YC11), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.41430747), the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (No.41401013), and the Beijing Municipal Education Commission (CEFF-PXM2018_014207_000043).

Author contributions

Yonge Zhang designed and performed the experiment. Yonge Zhang analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. Lihua Chen and Guodong Jia contributed significantly to data analysis, manuscript preparation and practice of experiment. Xinxiao Yu revised the paper and finished the submission.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of State forestry Administration on Soil and Water ConservationBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina

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