Stomatal responses in grapevine become increasingly more tolerant to low water potentials throughout the growing season

Plant J. 2021 Nov 19. doi: 10.1111/tpj.15591. Online ahead of print.


The leaf of deciduous species completes its life cycle in a few months. During leaf maturation, osmolyte accumulation leads to a significant reduction of the turgor loss point (ΨTLP ), a known marker for stomatal closure. Here we exposed two grapevine cultivars to drought at three different times during the growing season to explore if the seasonal decrease in leaf ΨTLP influences the stomatal response to drought. The results showed a significant seasonal shift in the response of stomatal conductance to stem water potential (gs ~ Ψstem ), demonstrating that grapevines become increasingly tolerant to low Ψstem as the season progresses in coordination with the decrease in ΨTLP . We also used the SurEau hydraulic model to demonstrate a direct link between osmotic adjustment and the plasticity of gs ~ Ψstem . To understand the possible advantages of gs ~ Ψstem plasticity, we incorporated a seasonally dynamic leaf osmotic potential into the model that simulated stomatal conductance under several water availabilities and climatic scenarios. The model demonstrated that a seasonally dynamic stomatal closure threshold results in trade-offs: it reduces the time to turgor loss under sustained long-term drought, but increases overall gas exchange especially under seasonal shifts in temperature and stochastic water availability. A projected hotter future is expected to lower the increase in gas exchange that plants gain from the seasonal shift in gs ~ Ψstem . These findings demonstrate that accounting for dynamic stomatal regulation is critical for understanding drought tolerance.

Keywords: Vitis vinifera; anisohydric; drought acclimation; isohydric; osmotic adjustment; pressure-volume curves; stomatal conductance; vine hydraulics; water stress.