Monitoring plant and soil water status: established and novel methods revisited and their relevance to studies of drought tolerance

J Exp Bot. 2007;58(2):119-30. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erl118. Epub 2006 Sep 15.


In all studies of the effects of water deficits on plant functioning there is a need for an accurate and comprehensive definition of treatments and their effects on plant water status. The various measures of water status used in plant and soil science are reviewed and their appropriateness for different purposes such as for studies of mechanistic effects of water deficits on plants, for breeding of drought-tolerant plants, or for management of irrigation systems are reviewed. An important conclusion is that the frequent emphasis on water potential rather than on cell turgor can be shown to be misleading, as can be measurements in the leaf. The disadvantages of the current trend towards the omission of necessary water-status measurements, especially common in more molecular studies, are outlined, and recommendations made for minimal sets of measurements for specific types of experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Breeding
  • Disasters*
  • Models, Biological
  • Photosynthesis / physiology
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Research
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Soil
  • Water