Differential transpiration between pods and leaves during stress combination in soybean

Plant Physiol. 2023 May 31;192(2):753-766. doi: 10.1093/plphys/kiad114.


Climate change is causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of droughts, heat waves, and their combinations, diminishing agricultural productivity and destabilizing societies worldwide. We recently reported that during a combination of water deficit (WD) and heat stress (HS), stomata on leaves of soybean (Glycine max) plants are closed, while stomata on flowers are open. This unique stomatal response was accompanied by differential transpiration (higher in flowers, while lower in leaves) that cooled flowers during a combination of WD + HS. Here, we reveal that developing pods of soybean plants subjected to a combination of WD + HS use a similar acclimation strategy of differential transpiration to reduce internal pod temperature by approximately 4 °C. We further show that enhanced expression of transcripts involved in abscisic acid degradation accompanies this response and that preventing pod transpiration by sealing stomata causes a significant increase in internal pod temperature. Using an RNA-Seq analysis of pods developing on plants subjected to WD + HS, we also show that the response of pods to WD, HS, or WD + HS is distinct from that of leaves or flowers. Interestingly, we report that although the number of flowers, pods, and seeds per plant decreases under conditions of WD + HS, the seed mass of plants subjected to WD + HS increases compared to plants subjected to HS, and the number of seeds with suppressed/aborted development is lower in WD + HS compared to HS. Taken together, our findings reveal that differential transpiration occurs in pods of soybean plants subjected to WD + HS and that this process limits heat-induced damage to seed production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dehydration / metabolism
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Glycine max* / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves* / metabolism
  • Plant Transpiration / physiology
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Water / metabolism


  • Water