Wheat Transpiration Response to Soil Heterogeneity

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Matthias Langensiepen1, Moritz Kupisch1, Gaochao Cai2, Jan Vanderborght2, Anja Stadler1, Hubert Hüging1 and Frank Ewert1, (1)University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany, (2)Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3) Forschungszentrum Jülich, Deutschland, Germany
Measuring sap-flow in thin wheat tillers has been difficult so far due to technical difficulties associated with the application of the heat-balance method for this purpose. We developed a new method which solved this problem (Langensiepen et al. 2014) and applied it during four consecutive vegetation seasons for determining tiller transpiration rates in a wheat field with strong soil heterogeneity. The transpiration rates differed insignificantly between different field sections characterized by strong differences in physical soil conditions, regardless whether the crop was irrigated or supplied with variable rainwater. Tiller transpiration in a sheltered section was slightly reduced. Maximum leaf vapor conductance didn't differ among these different conditions, except under severe water stress conditions. Leaf water potential varied considerably during daily cycles under all circumstances. These responses are typical for plants with anisohydric behaviors which are characterized by small sensitivities of guard cells to critical leaf water potential thresholds and high photosynthetic productivity under absent or mild water stress. Recent studies conducted in Eucalyptus, tomato, and Arabidopsis plants have shown that the transition from mild to severe stress in anisohydric plants is marked by an increasing sensitivity of stomatal control to the transpiration rate. The results of this study demonstrate that this also seems to be the case for wheat. This practically implies that the parameterization of models calculating wheat canopy flux responses to soil heterogeneity patterns must not only account for the crop-type specific soil-vegetation pattern interaction under absent or mild stress, but also for additional mechanisms which kick in when water stress becomes severe.

Langensiepen, M., Kupisch, M., Graf, A., Schmidt, M., Ewert, F. (2014) Improving the stem heat balance method for determining sap-flow in wheat. Agric. For. Met. 186: 34-42