Canadian Forest Service Publications

Stomatal and mesophyll limitations of photosynthesis in black spruce seedlings during multiple cycles of drought. 1995. Stewart, J.D.; Zine El Abidine, A.; Bernier, P.Y. Tree Physiology 15: 57-64.

Year: 1995

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 16641

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Container-grown black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) seedlings were planted in trays containing a sand and peat mixture, and placed in a climate-controlled greenhouse. One group of seedlings was kept well-watered, and another group was subjected to three cycles of drought. Gas exchange analysis showed that mesophyll photosynthetic function was largely unimpaired by drought. In contrast, stomatal conductance was sensitive to drought, although it became less sensitive with each drought cycle. Both stomatal and mesophyll conductances increased with time in control and drought-stressed seedlings, but mesophyll conductance increased with time more rapidly than did stomatal conductance. Limitation of photosynthetic rate was dominated by the mesophyll. In control seedlings, relative stomatal limitation increased from 6 to 16% by the end of the experiment. In drought-stressed seedlings, relative stomatal limitation of photosynthesis reached 40% during the first drought, but decreased to near control values immediately after rewatering. Because the third, most severe drought had only a minor effect on stomatal conductance, relative stomatal limitation of photosynthesis was similar to that in control seedlings by the end of the experiment. Inhibition of ontogenetic change during drought stress may be responsible for the apparent acclimation of mesophyll photosynthetic processes. We conclude that it would be more effective to select for high photosynthetic capacity than for reduced stomatal sensitivity when breeding for increased drought resistance in black spruce seedlings.