Current plant water status and stomatal response to ABA


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Commelina communis

Stomatal response to abscisic acid is a function of current plant water status

by Tardieu F., Davies W. J. (1992)

François TardieuWilliam J. Davies

in Plant Physiol 98: 540–545 – doi:10.1104/pp.98.2.540 – 

Abstract/FREE Full Text – CrossRef |PubMed |CAS |-


We investigated, under laboratory and field conditions, the possibility that increasing abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations and decreasing water potentials can interact in their effects on stomata.

One experiment was carried out with epidermal pieces of Commelina communis incubated in media with a variety of ABA and polyethylene glycol concentrations. In the media without ABA, incubation in solutions with water potentials between −0.3 and −1.5 megapascals had no significant effect on stomatal aperture.

Conversely, the sensitivity of stomatal aperture to ABA was trebled in solutions at −1.5 megapascals compared with sensitivity at −0.3 megapascals.

The effect of the change in sensitivity was more important than the absolute effect of ABA at the highest water potential. In a field experiment, sensitivity of maize stomatal conductance to the concentration of ABA in the xylem sap varied strongly with the time of the day.

We consider that the most likely explanation for this is the influence of a change in leaf or epidermal water potential that accompanies an increase in irradiance and saturation deficit as the day progresses. These observations suggest that epidermal water relations may act as a modulator of the responses of stomata to ABA. We argue that such changes must be taken into account in studies or modeling of plant responses to drought stress.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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

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