Diffusion through stomata

Spatial pattern of water vapour concentration above the pore of the BASIC model. To allow for visibility of the arrangement of the concentration contours, their cup-shaped arrangement is depicted at two co-ordinate planes intersecting each other at the centre of the stomatal pore.

Computer-based studies of diffusion through stomata of different architecture.

by Roth-Nebelsick A. (2007)

Anita Roth-Nebelsick, University of Tübingen, Germany


in Ann Bot 100:23–32 – DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcm075

PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMed – 



Background and Aims

The influence of stomatal architecture on stomatal conductance and on the developing concentration gradient was explored quantitatively by comparing diffusion rates of water vapour and CO2 occurring in a set of three-dimensional stoma models. The influence on diffusion of an internal cuticle, a sunken stoma, a partially closed stoma and of substomatal chambers of two different sizes was considered.



The study was performed by using a commercial computer program based on the Finite Element Method which allows for the simulation of diffusion in three dimensions. By using this method, diffusion was generated by prescribed gas concentrations at the boundaries of the substomatal chamber and outside of the leaf. The program calculates the distribution of gas concentrations over the entire model space.


Key Results

Locating the stomatal pore at the bottom of a stomatal antechamber with a depth of 20 µm decreased the conductance significantly (at roughly about 30 %). The humidity directly above the stomatal pore is significantly higher with the stomatal antechamber present. Lining the walls of the substomatal chamber with an internal cuticle which suppresses evaporation had an even stronger effect by reducing the conductance to 60 % of the original value. The study corroborates therefore the results of former studies that water will evaporate preferentially at sites in the immediate vicinity to the stomatal pore if no internal cuticle is present. The conductance decrease affects only water vapour and not CO2. Increasing the substomatal chamber increases CO2 uptake, whereas transpiration increases if an internal cuticle is present.



Variation of stomatal structure may, with unchanged pore size and depth, profoundly affect gas exchange and the pathways of liquid water inside the leaf. Equations for calculation of stomatal conductance which are solely based on stomatal density and pore depth and size can significantly overestimate stomatal conductance.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s