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Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 54, No. 390, pp. 2015±2024, September 2003 DOI: 10.



Cavitation, stomatal conductance, and leaf dieback in seedlings of two co-occurring Mediterranean shrubs during an intense drought
Ân4 A. Vilagrosa1,*, J. Bellot2, V. R. Vallejo3 and E. Gil-Pelegrõ
1 2 3 4

CEAM-Department de Ecologia, Universitat d'Alacant, POB 99, E-03080 Alacant, Spain Department de Ecologia, Universitat d'Alacant, POB 99, E-03080 Alacant, Spain  gico, E-46980 Paterna, Spain CEAM, C/Ch. Darwin 14, Parque Tecnolo Unidad de Recursos Forestales, SIA-DGA, POB 727, E-50080 Zaragoza, Spain

Received 17 October 2002; Accepted 22 May 2003

Seedling shrubs in the Mediterranean semi-arid climate are subjected to intense droughts during summer. Thus, seedlings often surpass their limits of tolerance to water stress, resulting in the loss of hydraulic conductivity due to xylem cavitation. The response in terms of stomatal conductance, vulnerability to cavitation, leaf dieback, and survival were analysed in two co-occurring seedlings of mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus L.) and kermes oak (Quercus coccifera L.) during an intense drought period. Both species reacted to drought with steep decreases in stomatal conductance before the critical water potential brought about the onset of cavitation events. Q. coccifera showed wider safety margins for avoiding runaway embolism than P. lentiscus and these differences could be related to the particular drought strategy displayed by each species: water saver or water spender. The limits for survival, resprout capacity and leaf dieback were also analysed in terms of loss of conductivity. By contrast with previous studies, the species showing higher seedling survival in the presence of drought also showed higher susceptibility to cavitation and operated with a lower safety margin for cavitation. Both species showed a leaf speci®c conductivity (LSC) threshold below which leaf biomass had to be regulated to avoid runaway embolism. However, each species displayed a different type of response: P. lentiscus conserved total leaf area up to 100% loss of LSC, whereas Q. coccifera continuously adjusted leaf

biomass throughout the drought period in order to maintain the LSC very close to the maximum values recorded without loss of conductivity. Both species maintained the capacity for survival until the loss of conductivity was very nearly 100%.
Key words: Drought stress, leaf dieback, Mediterranean shrubs, stomatal conductance, survival, xylem cavitation.

Introduction Soil water availability represents a major environmental constraint under Mediterranean conditions. Drought leads to water de®cit in the leaf tissue, which affects many physiological processes and can have ultimate consequences for plant growth and survival. Among these processes, the loss of hydraulic conductivity in the xylem has been recognized as playing an important role in drought resistance (Tyree and Sperry, 1989). This phenomenon is due to xylem cavitation, i.e. breakage of the water column under negative xylem pressure (Zimmermann, 1983). Once a conduit cavitates and becomes air-®lled (embolized), it is not available for water transport (Tyree and Sperry, 1989). Thus, cavitation reduces hydraulic conductivity in the xylem, and plants cannot supply their leaves with water properly. Plants differ widely in their susceptibility to cavitation, and it has been suggested that a high cavitation resistance results in a higher tolerance to water de®cit (Pockman and Sperry, 2000). Therefore, the survival of the species in climates with water limitations would be related to the

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. Fax: +34 965 903 464. E-mail: Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 54, No. 390, ã Society for Experimental Biology 2003; all rights reserved

Spain. ®ve plants of each species were chosen randomly to measure stomatal conductance (gs) and predawn water potential (Ypd). and can act as a control mechanism which. alterations in species composition at the community level (Tognetti et al. For determination of maximal stomatal conductance (gs-max).. global warming models predict generalized temperature increases as well as increases in the frequency of intense drought episodes and. after applying a survival model in Ânez-Vilalta (2001) reported Mediterranean species. it has been observed that vulnerability to embolism determines the patterns of survival in different species and that these patterns could affect species distribution (Pockman and Sperry. resulting in high mortality rates (Fonseca. 1999. changes in water potential. Materials and methods Plant material The local Forest Service supplied seeds of both species (from the Valencia. hydraulic conductivity parameters. and rainless periods longer than 120 d produced mortality rates above 80%. NE. in connection with stomatal activity. 1980. 1981). Thus. Fonseca. and bulk modulus of elasticity (Emax) were estimated. previous studies with Pistacia lentiscus and Quercus coccifera at the seedling stage showed steep decreases in water potential (i. USA) was used to measure stomatal conductance.. regulates the amount of water extracted by the plant (Salleo et al.00 to 18. 1998). Vilagrosa. 1999).. lentiscus is semi-ringporous (Villar-Salvador. In addition. A second objective was to attempt to ascertain the limits to survival in terms of loss of conductivity. (Fagaceae).. Spain) experimental ®elds. Cochard et al.. they on the Mediterranean arid range (Le Houe show some interesting differences between them. the seedlings of both species were watered to ®eld capacity and then allowed to dehydrate freely during the intense drought period. and shows a strategy of drought-avoidance by water-saving (Vilagrosa et al. osmotic potential at full turgor (Po). Cell-water relationships Pressure±volume (P±V curves) analysis was conducted in order to establish the critical point at which seedlings lost turgor. 2000). 2002). coccifera L. in effect. stomatal conductance.. 2000).e. 2002). both phenomena have already been observed Ä ol et al. Taking into account these differences. water potential at the turgor loss point (Ytlp). 2000. less than ±5 MPa) during a period of several months without rainfall in drought years. A model LI-1600 Steady State Porometer (Li-Cor Inc. From each curve. Sperry et al.. In this sense. regulate water losses during an intense drought period in relation to the mechanisms for avoiding cavitation. The principal aim of the present study was to investigate how seedlings of the co-occurring Mediterranean sclerophyllous shrubs. measurements were taken at 3 h intervals throughout the day.. leaf biomass. differences in vulnerability to cavitation among species could have important implications for the survival of adult individuals. lentiscus L. and survival capacity were monitored simultaneously. gs-max was related to Ypd according to Acherar and Rambal (1992). there is increasing evidence that xylem embolism limits gas exchange (Jones and Sutherland. 1997). and it has been observed to follow a strategy of drought-avoidance by water-spending (Levitt. relative water content at turgor loss point (RWCtlp). Photon ¯ux density at midday was from 1700±2200 mmol m±2 s±1. coccifera. Lincoln. (Anarcadiaceae) and Q. Prolonged climatic changes could (Pin produce cavitation-induced species declines and. 1998). Although both species are characteristic of the macchia  rou. from 06. 2000). Hacke et al.00 h solar time. 2000). 2002).. Since Mediterranean species have very short petioles. Before the drought period began. one leafy shoot with 5±6 leaves was selected to carry out P±V determinations. Two hundred 2-year-old seedlings for each species were grown in 8. Five P±V curves were analysed in each species according to the methods of Tyree and Hammel (1972). In fact. It has generally been considered that species tend to operate near the point at which water potential causes catastrophic xylem dysfunction and that they must regulate transpiration to avoid the positive feedback that would increase the loss of hydraulic conductivity and runaway embolism (Sperry et al. resistance of their xylem to cavitate (Davis et al. (2000) found that seedling mortality during summer in the semi-arid Mediterranean (eastern Spain) increased with the length of the rainless period.. is diffuse-porous (Villar-Salvador. respectively. Daily temperatures and relative humidity ranged between 20 and 37 °C and 40 and 80%. and they were watered and fertilized as needed.. and the sensor head of the porometer was held at the natural position and angle of the leaf during measurement... Moreover. Seedlings of P.2016 Vilagrosa et al. coccifera after plantation in reforestation programmes (Vilagrosa et al. who established that Ypd determines the daily . 2002). 2002). 1997. Stomatal conductance and water potential Every three days throughout the drought period. P. 1998. Vilagrosa. it was investigated whether stomatal conductance was limited by xylem cavitation in these species. and these differences could be even more critical for the recruitment of young individuals that have less access to deep water reserves in the soil (Williams et al. In a Mediterranean context. 1991. Nardini and Salleo. lentiscus registered higher survival rates than those of Q. after analysing a wide range of Mediterranean species. 2000. 1998). Q. In this sense. 1997.0 l containers ®lled with forest soil under full sunlight conditions. The drought period took place during summer in full sunlight at the SIA (Servicio de Investigaciones Agroalimentarias-DGA. P. Martõ that vulnerability to cavitation was the crucial variable for explaining differences in drought tolerance and survival. Measurements were made on the abaxial side of the leaves. on the contrary. Vallejo et al. Davis et al. consequently. Moreover. precipitation: 250±300 mm year±1 and average temperature: 17±19 °C). what the safety margins were for avoiding the onset of cavitation events and what mechanisms were displayed to avoid runaway embolism after stomata closure. Regional Government seed bank) from the same area where the experiment was carried out (Mediterranean semi-arid climate. Therefore.

to minimize possible artefacts. kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1). Emax values corresponded to relatively non-elastic cell walls.05). Figure 1 shows the relationship between gs-max measured during the day and Ypd. lentiscus and Q. and it was compared for the equality of slopes through the interaction of the concomitant variable and the factor. Flow rate through the twig segment was measured gravimetrically with an analytical balance (Metlher AE 40) connected to a computer which calculated the ¯ow rate of each twig segment.0 (1. P. it was not possible to choose longer segments. with values ranging between 86 and 87% at the turgor loss point.2 (1. diameter without bark. The same current-year twig segments were measured in length. coccifera . measurements were performed at short time intervals. gs-max around 100 mmol m±2 s±1 at ±1 MPa). Data transformations were made when necessary to ensure the validity of the assumptions of normality. However.1) 2. Hydraulic conductivity was calculated as the mass ¯ow rate of the solution through the twig segment divided by the pressure gradient along the segment (Kh. LSC.0) 87. RWCtlp remained relatively high for both species. coccifera.e. vulnerability to cavitation curves. To avoid additional embolism the twigs were cut underwater in segments of 30±50 mm in length.2) 3.. The segments were perfused with a degassed HCl solution (0.48 kPa) to measure initial hydraulic conductivity (Khi. linearity and homoscedasticity. preliminary determinations of maximum vessel length showed that the length of the longest vessel was very similar to the segment lengths chosen in this study.4 (3. coccifera (173T15 mmol m±2 s±1). the gs-max was recorded during the early hours of the day. Differences between species were tested with analysis of covariance since this technique combines regression analysis with ANOVA (Underwood.Survival of Mediterranean shrubs during drought 2017 maximum values of gs (gs-max). Water potential in leafy shoots was assessed by means of a pressure chamber. Illinois. Recent studies (Zwieniecki et al.5 ml l±1. USA). to compute the main hydraulic architecture parameters: hydraulic conductivity (Kh). 2000). Regression analysis was used to ®t stomatal conductance. Then. See Materials and methods for abbreviations. After the initial hydraulic conductivity (Khi) was measured. In a previous study.6 (0. Data from P±V curves and hydraulic parameters were subjected to analysis of variance (one-way ANOVA) to detect differences between the species. lentiscus showed higher rates of stomatal conductance with high water availability (491T99 mmol m±2 s±1) than Q. Leaf dieback was computed as a percentage of reduction in leaf area as a function of water potential (Yxil). The acid was used to minimize microbial growth in the tubing system and to avoid artefacts due to salt solutions used in previous studies (Alder et al. lentiscus and Q. and Po at full turgor was ±2. These values decreased suddenly when Ypd diminished only slightly (i. Modelled reductions (sigmoid regression) computed in Table 1. The manifold with the twigs was immersed in distilled water to prevent desiccation and to maintain a near constant temperature. and leaf biomass supplied. Since both species showed low relative growth rates. 1989).. with high gradients of water potential associated with small losses in cell volume.8) drought-induced leaf dieback were used to correct the modelled decrements in LSC due to cavitation and then to calculate the real capacity of the xylem to supply water to leaves (LSCcorr).5 (0. Even with high water availability. Vulnerability to embolism was measured in current-year twigs by constructing vulnerability curves through the dehydration method (Tyree and Sperry. Both species lost turgor between ±3.. Generally. Chicago.1) po (±MPa) 2. and LSC.1) Emax (±MPa) 29.4) RWCtip (%) 86. ten current-year twigs of one seedling were collected in which water potential (Yxil) had previously been measured. which corresponded to a Ypd of ±4 MPa. 1997). Number of samples was ®ve for each species. Ytlp (±MPa) P. Statistical analysis All statistical analysis were performed by using SPSS version 10. speci®c conductivity (Ks). Vulnerability to embolism and hydraulic parameters A total of n=20 and n=24 seedlings of P. kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1).6 MPa (Table 1). It was veri®ed that longer ¯ushing times did not produce signi®cant variations in the ¯ow rates. During the drought period. However.. the same procedure as in Khi was followed to measure the maximum ¯ow of water (Khmax). respectively.0 (1. The lineal adjustment of the data was veri®ed previously.3 (0. and both ends were shaved with a razor blade. For measuring xylem conductivity during the drought period.3 to ±3. coccifera. the walls of the pressure chamber were covered with wet ®lter paper.5 MPa. To avoid tissue dehydration during measurements. van Ieperen et al.8) 25. were used to carry out the vulnerability curves.7 (0. Results Analysis of pressure±volume curves showed similar values for both species (P >0. (1996). lentiscus showed lower gs-max values (26T12 mmol m±2 s±1). coccifera 3. lentiscus Q. Mean T (SEs). After 24 d of intense drought. they were rewatered to analyse survival and resprout capacity. The segments were placed in a tubing manifold similar to the one described by Cochard et al. lentiscus and n=15 for Q. Q.0 package (SPSS Inc. about 15 min for the whole measurement in each segment. coccifera) was used to establish the relationship between Ypd and midday water potential (Ymd). respectively). Leaf dieback. ®nding no signi®cant variations in the ¯ow. survival and resprout capacity Leaf dieback was recorded in another set of plants that were subjected to the same intense drought period (n=22 and n=20 for P. several ¯ushing times were tested (up to 20 min). PLC was used to plot the reduction in cavitation-induced leaf speci®c conductivity (LSC) versus water potential (Yxil) as a new type of vulnerability curve. and leaf dieback with water potential. the twig segments were ¯ushed with pressurized solution (100 kPa for 10 min) to remove any air emboli. Another set of plants (n=19 for P. after seedlings attained a certain Yxil. 2001) found that acidic solutions could increase the ¯ow throughout the stems after 40 min of ¯ushing. 1997. The natural logarithm of water potential was the concomitant variable. pH»2) at low pressure (5. A more accurate description of the device can be found in Vilagrosa (2002). This type of vulnerability curve illustrated how large the reduction was in the capacity to supply water to leaves during the drought period. P. Comparison of cell-water relationships (pressure± volume curves) between both species No statistical differences were found for any parameter. The percentage loss of conductivity (PLC) was computed as: (1±Khi)Q100/Khmax.

8Q10±7 and 5. the vulnerability to cavitation curves and the reduction in LSC due to cavitation as a function of Yxil were analysed (Figs 2. F=242. coccifera. The shape of the curves was signi®cantly different between species (F1. lentiscus and Q. At that point. Data were ®tted to the best model: gs-max=1000/(14.36=8. coccifera (circles). where `c' and `d' coef®cients are the slope of the regression and the 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity (PLC50). P <0.81 (r2=0. lentiscus was more susceptible to water stress-induced cavitation than Q.64 and d=6. coccifera. i.0Q10±7 kg m s±1 MPa±1. P. The differences between both species decreased when Kh was expressed as a function of sapwood area (speci®c conductivity. about 1. whereas loss of conductivity was close to 100% at ±7. coccifera Different letters (a.8±1. Pairs of data were adjusted to sigmoid regression (Loss of conductivity= 100/(1+exp (c(Yxil±d))) according to Pammenter and Van der Willigen (1998).09)b 1.6)a P. both species showed the same LSC. For Q. coccifera. By contrast.15=7. lentiscus and Q.5 MPa.01).. up to .01) in Q. LSC). Ks) or leaf area supplied (leaf speci®c conductivity. lentiscus (solid line) and gs-max=179. coccifera for both parameters (P <0. Vulnerability curves to cavitation for P.46 (0.8 (5. It is generally accepted that plants operate near the point at which Yxil causes catastrophic xylem dysfunction (Pockman and Sperry.8. P <0. P <0. lentiscus lost LSC completely in a short interval of Yxil. 4). F=111. P. 3).01 level.34. lentiscus 29. Ymd) as a function of predawn water potential (Ypd) was analysed in order to establish the responses to high water availability and intense drought stress in both species (Fig. Number of samples was n=19 and n=21 for P. coccifera and both curves crossed at ±5. between ±5. P. Kh (10±7) Ks LSC (10±4) (kg m s±1 MPa±1) (kg s±1 m±1 MPa±1) (kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1) Q. 2. b) indicate signi®cant differences at P <0. lentiscus and c= ±0. Sperry et al.40)b Fig. the differences were still signi®cant. and B.02)a 0. for Q. Dotted lines A. Relationship between maximal stomatal conductance (gs-max) registered throughout the day and predawn water potential (Ypd) in P.3. As a consequence. coccifera (circles). coccifera. From this point. P <0. lentiscus showed a linear regression between Ypd and Ymd. coccifera (dashed line). Table 2.5 MPa. Q.01 (0. P.6.29 (0. 2000. 1. lentiscus. but while P. coccifera (F1. 2).11)a 3. P <0. Table 2). According to gs-max results. lentiscus exhibited much higher Kh than Q.5 MPa (Fig.2)b 0. lentiscus.6 MPa) independent of the Ypd values.73 (0.96 (r2=0. lentiscus (triangles) and Q. Number of samples were n=169 and n=203 for P. P. P=0. coccifera continued losing LSC slightly until the Yxil decreased to ±10 MPa. lentiscus and Q. represent the critical water potential (Ycrit) from which the onset of cavitation events began (slope¹0) in both species. coccifera 5. P. but P.96 and d=4. for P.84. Q.8 e±(0. F=20. respectively. respectively. maintained conservative stomatal conductance rates which decreased more gradually with lower Ypd. lentiscus was more ef®cient in conducting water to leaves than Q. Mean TSEs.01) in P. See Materials and methods for abbreviations.01). coccifera.2018 Vilagrosa et al.e.58 Ypd) (r2=0. Regression coef®cients were c= ±0. 3). Hydraulic xylem characteristics of current-year twigs in P. Fig. In order to evaluate the reduction in the water supply to leaves as the plants got drier. coccifera had lost only 20%.01) for Q. This species operated near the critical water potential (Ycrit).64 Ypd) (r2=0. Ycrit was ±5 MPa and all hydraulic conductivity was lost when Yxil was brought down below ±10 MPa. The minimum water potential (midday water potential. lentiscus (triangles) and Q. Each point represents the average of ®ve plants. lentiscus showed two times higher values than Q.0 (0. lentiscus had lost 50% of LSC.01.91.01) (Fig.93.5 and ±7.1. respectively. Cavitation events started at the critical water potential (Ycrit) of ±3. displaying a constant increment (Ymd ±Ypd about 1.01) for P.86. respectively. coccifera (P <0. F=249. 2002).1Q10±4 kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1. 29.5 MPa for P. coccifera.98. and bars are SEs. lentiscus reduced LSC sooner than Q. Both species were very resistant to cavitation events. Nonetheless.

loss of leaf area was only Fig. coccifera (r2=0. In order to illustrate tendencies. This phase continued until both species fell to ±5 MPa and the loss of conductivity was 55 and 20% for P. and the predawn water potential (Ypd) reached by both species. coccifera operated very far from the point at which Yxil causes catastrophic xylem dysfunction. lentiscus (r2=0. during the turgor phase. coccifera. F=34. Moreover. Loss of leaf area in P. coccifera. lentiscus (LSC= ±0. both species resprouted from the base of the shoots and all seedlings remained alive. lentiscus did not lose leaves until Yxil reached ±5 MPa. lentiscus and Q. Q.001) and Q. 4. all seedlings lost their resprouting capacity and died when Yxil was close to ±8 MPa or lower in P. Leaf dieback started when Yxil was between ±5 and ±6 MPa and LSC was the same for both species (around 1.92) and exponential model in Q. lentiscus (Yxil between ±7 and almost ±8 MPa). lentiscus (triangles) and Q. 5. lentiscus and Q. Afterwards. coccifera it ranged from ±7 to ±10 MPa. Number of samples was n=19 and n=21 for P. Number of samples was n=19 and n=15 for P.52+3. at which point the Ymd decreased under the Ycrit and cavitation occurred. coccifera showed an exponential regression indicating differential increases in Ymd throughout the drought period.97).4.86. Leaf dieback and resprout capacity were also recorded during the drought period (Fig. for P. P. which was progressively reduced (1 MPa at Ypd `±4 MPa). lentiscus and between 50±90% in Q. and the cavitation threshold (Ycrit). and loss of conductivity was 50% in Q. represent the critical water potential (Ycrit). Data were ®tted by a sigmoid curve for P. coccifera. P.e.003+1. some leaf dieback occurred. the LSC was corrected for the reduction in leaf area (LSCcorr) that plants suffered with the decrease in Yxil (Fig. coccifera (circles).93. as a consequence. P <0. but after rewatering. Loss of leaf speci®c conductivity (LSC) induced by cavitation as a function of xylem water potential (Yxil) in P. Yxil remained between ±5 and ±7 MPa for both species. 100% of seedlings remained alive and no resprouts were observed. Loss of conductivity was between 95±100% in P. respectively. Relationship between the minimum water potential. For the same Yxil. lentiscus and ±10 MPa or lower in Q.45/(1+exp((±Yxil ±5. This phase was very short for P. between ±5 and ±8 MPa). When Yxil fell to ±5 MPa. respectively. 30%. LSC and LSCcorr decreased in a similar way.32)/±1. at rewatering. By contrast.1Q10±4 kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1). coccifera and this species lost all the leaves when Yxil reached values around ±10 MPa. for Q. This species showed an increment (Ymd±Ypd) of about 2 MPa with high water availability. Phase 1 was characterized by a moderate loss of conductivity without visible damage on the plants. The graphs show regression lines x=y where Ymd would show the same values as Ypd. coccifera. lentiscus. four phases were identi®ed (Table 3).39/ (1+exp((±Yxil±7. lentiscus reached 50% when Yxil fell to ±7 MPa and loss of conductivity was nearly 95%. whereas for Q. lentiscus and Q. In order to analyse the effect of leaf dieback on the capacity of the xylem to supply water to leaves. F=70. values were adjusted to linear model in P. coccifera. de®ned as midday water potential (Ymd). During Phase 2. See text for more details. leaf dieback was more progressive in Q. lentiscus lost all leaves in a short interval of Yxil (i. To clarify drought stress effects on loss of conductivity and resprout capacity. Dotted lines A.Survival of Mediterranean shrubs during drought 2019 Fig. during Phase 4. ±2 MPa.15)/±1. But.39)). P <0. coccifera (LSC= ±0. respectively. coccifera.001). Table 3). 6). r2=0. 3. coccifera. Q. Finally.18)).6. In this phase. Both species lost all leaves at the end of Phase 3. r2=0. and B. leaf abscission took place and LSCcorr showed slightly higher values than .

1996. P <0. Curves were plotted from modelled regression lines on Figs 3 and 4. P <0. Observed plant damages attributed to leaf dieback. Cochard et al.6. r2=0. F=70.45/(1+exp((±Yxil±5. therefore. Fig. The moderately high values of LSCcorr were the consequence of the loss in the LSC that had previously been very high (55±95%) and.15)/±1. Data were ®tted by a sigmoid curve for P. respectively. Number of samples was n=22 and n=20 for P. F=34. the capacity of this species to supply water to leaves remained nearly constant throughout the whole drought period.1 to ±5 ±5 to ±7 Loss of conductivity (%) 0±55 55±95 3 4 ±7 to ±10 <±10 50±90 >90 ±7 to ±8 <±8 95±100 100 . Table Black symbols correspond to LSC decline due to cavitation assuming leaf area constant.2020 Vilagrosa et al. On the other hand. leaf abscission had little effect on LSC recovery.1 to ±5 ±5 to ±7 Loss of conductivity (%) 0±20 20±50 P. Modelled loss of leaf area was used to recalculate LSCcorr in Fig.86. coccifera (circles). and (2) plants that maximize stomatal conductance even if their stomatal behaviour involves some loss of hydraulic conductance.32)/±1.39)).. Leaf dieback expressed as a percentage in reduction of leaf area as a function of Yxil in P. and the white symbols are LSC-corrected (LSCcorr) for the leaf area remaining on the plants after leaf dieback occurred for each Yxil. Jones and Sutherland (1991) proposed that plants could be classi®ed in two different categories according to their stomatal behaviour: (1) plants that regulate stomatal closure to avoid any loss of hydraulic conductivity. coccifera Yxil (±MPa) 1 2 No visible damage Damaged leaves Loss of some leaves 100% seedlings alive No resprouts Progressive loss of all leaves Resprouts from the base of shoots 100% seedlings alive All seedlings dead ±0. Discusion Drought strategies.18)). 2000).. coccifera. Salleo et al. Phase Plant damage Q. lentiscus (solid line) (LSC= ±0. LSC. Cavitation avoidance has been interpreted Fig.001) and Q. stomatal conductance and vulnerability to cavitation Several studies have reported that plants must regulate transpiration through stomatal conductance in order to avoid xylem cavitation and runaway embolism (Sperry and Pockman. r2=0. 6. lentiscus (triangles) and Q. the gradual leaf abscission in Q. Modelled decline in LSC due to cavitation as a function of Yxil.003+1.39/ (1+exp((±Yxil±7. 5. coccifera permitted the maintenance of LSCcorr values similar to the maximum LSC values registered at the beginning of the drought period without loss of conductivity.52+3. lentiscus and Q. lentiscus Yxil (±MPa) ±0. coccifera (dashed line) (LSC= ±0. 1993. 6. survival and resprout capacity after rewatering for each species throughout the intense drought period The range of Yxil and loss of conductivity for the different phases observed are shown. As a result.

On the other hand. Vilagrosa et al.. However. Salleo et al. 1993). Vilagrosa. This behaviour could be considered as cavitation avoidance since stomatal closure prevents xylem cavitation (Sperry et al. 2001. and they continued living after rewatering. when Yxil decreased below ±5 MPa. LSC maintenance.Survival of Mediterranean shrubs during drought 2021 as the consequence of an ef®cient stomatal control over transpiration (Cochard et al. the limits for leaf dieback.. Martõ similar results with several Mediterranean shrub and tree species that are closely related to the species studied in this work. and seedling mortality (Table 3). The present study shows that leaf dieback started after the plants reached the turgor loss point and the stomata remained closed. 1997. (1997) related embolism with seedling mortality in Adenostoma fasciculatum. 2000.. these authors linked wide or narrow margins to water-conducting ef®ciency and phylogenetic characteristics. In this study. with higher waterconducting ef®ciency. which maintained narrower intervals between Ymd and Ycrit. 2002). lentiscus during the ®rst summer on experimental plots established in semi-arid climate. 1993) who suggested that a prompt response of plants to drought is crucial in order to prevent severe tissue dehydration and plant damage under Mediterranean severe drought conditions. Several studies have related hydraulic failure to leaf shedding (Tyree et al. and would maintain narrower limits than Q. lentiscus takes advantage of episodes with high water availability. 2000. coccifera. 2002). Although these observations coincide with the behaviour observed in Q. The results of this work show that both species maintained an ef®cient stomatal control with steep decreases in stomatal conductance. 1999. well before reaching Ycrit that would cause the onset of cavitation events. leaf dieback and survival capacity. wider safety margins to xylem dysfunction as observed in this study do not always imply higher survival under ®eld conditions. The stomatal response observed in both species would be linked to a conservative use of water resources. loss of conductivity and leaf dieback did not represent a problem for the species studied. Hubbard et al. lentiscus.. The results here do not fully agree with these observations since P.g. and Williams et al. During Phase 3. 1993). Sperry and Pockman (1993) have reported the existence of a critical value of leaf speci®c conductance in Betula occidentalis at which a leaf would be in danger of dieback.. whereas leaf dieback began at different rates of loss of conductivity (55% and 20% for P. resprouting capacity. coccifera showed higher mortality rates than those of P. both species showed similar values of residual transpiration when stomata remained closed (Vilagrosa et al. 1980. both species displayed droughtavoidance strategies. Moreover. However. the results of this study suggest that it is possible to maintain wide or narrow margins independently of the habitat occupied. respectively). In addition to these results. These results would be in accordance with other authors (Tenhunen et al.. 1987. lentiscus and Q. 2000).e. leaf dieback. (2000) proposed that plants from arid climates would maintain wider safety margins than plants from moist habitats. Cochard et al. Sperry et al.. but it has also been considered an ideal condition for actively transpiring plants growing in natural conditions (Nardini and Salleo. (2002) obtained environments. four phases were identi®ed in relation to loss of conductivity. Pereira and Chaves. whole plant mortality. lentiscus. coccifera. this topic is still being subjected to extensive study (e. since both species are characteristic of the same Mediterranean dry and semi-arid Ânez-Vilalta et al.. 2002). the coincidence in LSC values around 1. 1998). 1993) or branch dieback (Davis et al.. However. 2002). it has been reported that plants operate near the point at which water potential causes catastrophic xylem dysfunction (Pockman and Sperry. In fact... During the ®rst two phases. mainly in Q. Sperry et al. 1996). coccifera with its conservative strategy based on water saving. Furthermore. by water-saving in Q. 2002). which showed low cell wall elasticity with high gradients of water potential associated with small losses of cell volume. This fact would represent a mechanism to avoid runaway embolism through the reduction in overall passive water losses (i.. These strategies are frequently reported in species from habitats with strong water limitations (Salleo and Lo Gullo. P. and survival capacity have not yet been related to the loss of hydraulic conductivity. even though the loss of conductivity was as high as 95% in P. coccifera and by water-spending in P. cuticular transpiration). Fonseca. In addition to the role of stomatal conductance. coccifera. 2002) have shown that seedlings of Q. Moreover. 2003). 2002. Therefore. and that this will improve the survival during drought periods. The observations of the present study reinforce the idea that the different drought strategies exhibited by the species would establish the safety margins that each species can maintain. This conservative use of resources is further supported by the results of the P±V curves. since stomatal closure entails a high cost for species to pay for maintaining xylem integrity (Jones. the same does not apply for P. several studies (Vilagrosa et al. lentiscus.. As far as is known. According to Tyree and Ewers (1991) vulnerability to cavitation can be considered the most important physiological parameter explaining drought tolerance in plants. this hypothesis has never been tested (Tyree and Zimmermann. Vilagrosa. was the species showing narrow safety margins and high survival under ®eld conditions. 1997. Hacke et al. Moreover.1Q10±4 kg m±1 s±1 MPa±1 might support the existence of an LSC threshold at which plants cannot properly supply their leaves with water and thus must regulate the leaf biomass. both species were able to resprout after . lentiscus (Levitt.

2002). In this sense. 1997.. lentiscus was able to show higher water potentials than Q. P. whereas Q. Tyree and Zimmermann. Vilagrosa. In semi-arid environments. indicating a high construction cost for new vessels (Arianoutsou-Faraggitaki et al. P. conse- quently. 1999. 2003. lentiscus would suppose lower energy expenditures than in Q. In conclusion. both strategies may be related to different morpho-functional traits in both species. 2001). In addition. and increase leaf water storage and photochemical ef®ciency under conditions of drought (Vilagrosa et al. coccifera develops a diffuseporous hardwood (Villar-Salvador. independent of the habitat occupied. lentiscus developed a dense root system along the soil pro®le while Q. 2002. a good correlation has been observed between starch metabolism and cambium activity in Q. the higher water potentials. Tyree et al. But the latter species with lower loss of conductivity (c. coccifera. 1995). In this sense. P. Vogt. In addition to these observations. and it is postulated that this fact could be related to the mopho-functional traits developed for the species. Fonseca (1999) observed under ®eld conditions that P. coccifera would be able to maintain maximum rates of gas exchange with the remaining leaf biomass. coccifera. lentiscus ranged between 95 and almost 100%. (2001) who found that higher resistance to cavitation would be related to higher wood density for resisting the mechanical strength generated at low water potentials and. e. 2002) have indicated that loss of conductivity could be considered a good predictor for species survival.. These results might indicate that the different behaviour evident between both species could be related to differences in drought tolerance beyond xylem resistance to cavitation. the construction of new vessels in P.. coccifera developed a deep but sparse root system (Vilagrosa et al. Rubio et al. This study also reports the existence of a leaf speci®c conductivity threshold below which plants cannot supply water to their leaves properly and must regulate leaf biomass to avoid runaway embolism. Therefore. According to previous studies. P. Moreover. whilst Q. 1996. lentiscus could facilitate the mechanisms of xylem re®lling or the construction of new xylem in this species. This species was able to modify above and below-ground biomass. it has been observed that P. 2000. during Phase 4. According to Fahn (1982). 1984). it is cheaper to build a xylem structure based on ring-porous softwood than on diffuse-porous hardwood. lentiscus would have to recover hydraulic conductivity to be able to supply water properly to its leaves when conditions of water availability returned again. before the onset of cavitation events. 1997. It would be desirable in order to determine the exact role of xylem cavitation in the resistance of plants to drought by combining ®eld observations on survival. coccifera in response to drought conditions. lentiscus with a water-spender strategy maintained its entire leaf biomass until the almost 100% loss of conductivity while Q. to a higher construction cost of the xylem. 50±90%) would have to produce new leaves to maintain a positive carbon balance after rewatering. and the formation of new vessels can be decoupled from phloem formation quicker in ring-porous (several days) than in diffuse-pore species (several weeks). Consequently.. 2000).. rewatering. Cochard et al. However. These observations agree with Hacke et al. The results of this study cannot explain the underlying mechanisms of such observations. the type of root system developed by both species could also contribute to the observed results. recent studies have shown that xylem re®lling associated with high water potentials could be one of the mechanisms for restoring hydraulic conductivity after xylem cavitation (Salleo et al. Therefore... lentiscus is more plastic than Q. as observed in P. coccifera only lost between 50± 90%. loss of conductivity was very close to 100% in both species. loss of conductivity in P. However. and they were unable to resprout and died. Finally. lentiscus develops a semi-ringporous softwood whilst Q. possibly indicating that the loss of leaf biomass had been excessive and that they needed to recover leaf photosynthetic biomass to be able to survive. both species maintained an ef®cient stomatal control linked to a conservative use of water resources. Contrary to expected results.g. coccifera with a watersaver strategy adjusted its leaf biomass to maximize its capacity to supply water to leaves during the whole drought period (Fig. the results of this study indicated that..2022 Vilagrosa et al. The results obtained in this study introduce the idea that. Therefore. .. This fact would allow the species to maintain its entire leaf biomass until the almost 100% loss of conductivity. coccifera after autumn rainfalls. the higher resistance to xylem cavitation in Q. 6). the drought strategies exhibited by the different species could establish the safety margins that each species can maintain. Martõ et al. 2001. On the other hand. 2001). Ânez-Vilalta several authors (Hacke et al. coccifera was not accompanied by higher survival under ®eld conditions. loss of conductivity could be considered a good predictor of survival limits in both species since they both died when the loss of conductivity was very close to 100%. wide safety margins do not always imply higher survival rates under ®eld conditions. xylem-re®lling processes and root system features. But higher resistance to xylem cavitation was not accompanied by higher survival under ®eld conditions. autumn rainfalls (Table 3). these results show that cavitation can be considered a good predictor of the limits to drought tolerance of both species since they died when loss of conductivity was almost complete. However. a dense root system can take advantage of small rainfall episodes improving water adsorption and permitting a better rehydration after summer drought (Canadell and Zedler. with those on vulnerability to cavitation. However.

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