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Journal of Experimental Botany

Yonatan Sorek, 
Yishai Netzer, 
Shabtai Cohen,
Uri Hochberg

Under most conditions tight stomatal regulation in grapevines (Vitis vinifera) avoids xylem embolism. The current study evaluated grapevine responses to challenging scenarios that might lead to leaf embolism and consequential leaf damage. We hypothesized that embolism would occur if the vines experienced low xylem water potential (Ψx) shortly after bud break or later in the season under a combination of extreme drought and heat. We subjected vines to two potentially dangerous environments: (i) withholding irrigation from a vineyard grown in a heatwave-prone environment, and (ii) subjecting potted vines to terminal drought 1 month after bud break. In the field experiment, a heatwave at the beginning of August resulted in leaf temperatures over 45 °C. However, effective stomatal response maintained the xylem water potential (Ψx) well above the embolism threshold, and no leaf desiccation was observed. In the pot experiment, leaves of well-watered vines in May were relatively vulnerable to embolism with 50% embolism (P50) at –1.8 MPa. However, when exposed to drought, these leaves acclimated their leaf P50 by 0.65 MPa in less than a week and before reaching embolism values. When dried to embolizing Ψx, the leaf damage proportion matched (percentage-wise) the leaf embolism level. Our findings indicate that embolism and leaf damage are usually avoided by the grapevines’ efficient stomatal regulation and rapid acclimation of their xylem vulnerability.

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תנאי שימוש
Rapid leaf xylem acclimation diminishes the chances of embolism in grapevines

Yonatan Sorek, 
Yishai Netzer, 
Shabtai Cohen,
Uri Hochberg

Rapid leaf xylem acclimation diminishes the chances of embolism in grapevines

Under most conditions tight stomatal regulation in grapevines (Vitis vinifera) avoids xylem embolism. The current study evaluated grapevine responses to challenging scenarios that might lead to leaf embolism and consequential leaf damage. We hypothesized that embolism would occur if the vines experienced low xylem water potential (Ψx) shortly after bud break or later in the season under a combination of extreme drought and heat. We subjected vines to two potentially dangerous environments: (i) withholding irrigation from a vineyard grown in a heatwave-prone environment, and (ii) subjecting potted vines to terminal drought 1 month after bud break. In the field experiment, a heatwave at the beginning of August resulted in leaf temperatures over 45 °C. However, effective stomatal response maintained the xylem water potential (Ψx) well above the embolism threshold, and no leaf desiccation was observed. In the pot experiment, leaves of well-watered vines in May were relatively vulnerable to embolism with 50% embolism (P50) at –1.8 MPa. However, when exposed to drought, these leaves acclimated their leaf P50 by 0.65 MPa in less than a week and before reaching embolism values. When dried to embolizing Ψx, the leaf damage proportion matched (percentage-wise) the leaf embolism level. Our findings indicate that embolism and leaf damage are usually avoided by the grapevines’ efficient stomatal regulation and rapid acclimation of their xylem vulnerability.

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