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Water 2018, 10(8), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081036

Hydraulic Conductivity Characteristics of Desert Plant Organs: Coping with Drought Tolerance Strategy

1
School of Life Science and Engineering, Lanzhou University of Technology, Lanzhou 730050, China
2
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Process and Climate Change in Cold and Arid Regions, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
3
Research Center of Water Resources and Ecological Environment of Poyang Lake, the Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China, Nanchang 330029, China
4
School of Water Resources and Ecological Engineering, Nanchang Institute of Technology, Nanchang 330099, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 1 August 2018 / Published: 5 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydraulics)
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Abstract

Plant hydraulic conductivity (K) refers to the rate of water flow (kg s−1) per unit pressure drop (MPa), which drives flow through the plant organ system. It is an important eco-physiology index for measuring plant water absorption and transport capacity. A field study was conducted in the arid region of the Heihe River Basin in northwestern China, plant hydraulic conductivity was measured by high-pressure flowmeter (HPFM) to investigate the characteristics of hydraulic conductivity of typical dominant desert plants (Reaumuria soongarica M., Nitraria sphaerocarpa M., and Sympegma regelii B.) and their relationship with functional traits of leaves, stems, and roots, and explaining their adaptation strategies to desert environment from the perspective of plant organs hydraulic conductivity. The results showed that the hydraulic conductivity of the leaves and stems of R. soongarica and N. sphaerocarpa (KLA, leaf hydraulic conductivity per unit leaf area; KLW, leaf hydraulic conductivity per unit leaf weight; KSLA, stem hydraulic conductivity per unit leaf area; KSLW, stem hydraulic conductivity per unit leaf weight) were significantly lower than those of S. regelii, while their fine root (KRL, root hydraulic conductivity per unit leaf length; KRSA, root hydraulic conductivity per unit root surface area) and whole root (KTRW, whole root hydraulic conductivity per unit root weight) of hydraulic conductivity were significantly higher than those of S. regelii. In addition, KLA and KLW, KSLA and KSLW, and KRL and KRSA in three desert plants all exhibited consistent trends. Correlation analysis illustrated that the hydraulic conductivity of leaves and stems had a significantly positive correlation, but they had no significant negative correlation with the specific leaf weight (SLW, specific leaf weight). The hydraulic conductivity of fine root weight (KRW, root hydraulic conductivity per unit root weight) and specific root surface area (SRSA, specific root surface area) showed significantly positive correlation (r = 0.727, P < 0.05). The results demonstrated that the R. soongarica and N. sphaerocarpa preserved their water content through the strong leaf absorption capacity of soil water and the low water dispersion rates of leaves to adapt to the harsher arid habitat, which is more drought tolerant than S. regelii. View Full-Text
Keywords: desert plant; hydraulic conductivity; high-pressure flowmeter; plant functional traits; drought tolerance desert plant; hydraulic conductivity; high-pressure flowmeter; plant functional traits; drought tolerance
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Li, S.; Su, P.; Zhang, H.; Zhou, Z.; Shi, R.; Gou, W. Hydraulic Conductivity Characteristics of Desert Plant Organs: Coping with Drought Tolerance Strategy. Water 2018, 10, 1036.

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