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Effect Of Leaf Rolling On Gas Exchange And Leaf Temperature Of Andropogon Gerardii And Spartina Pectinata

S. Heckathorn, E. DeLucia
Published 1991 · Biology

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We examined the effect of leaf rolling on CO2 and water vapor exchange of two C4 prairie grasses with contrasting patterns of leaf rolling. Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) is a drought-resistant species with predominantly hypostomatal leaves that fold (adaxial surface inward) in response to low leaf water potential, while leaves of Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass), a mesic species, are epistomatal and roll into spirals (also adaxial surface inward). Adaxial stomata of both species are closed in completely rolled or folded leaves; thus these leaf movements have a minor effect on total leaf conductance. Energy budget calculations indicate that leaf rolling reduces transpiration by 7%-13% in water-stressed plants by lowering leaf temperature and, therefore, leaf-to-air vapor pressure deficit. This reduction is small relative to the direct effect of stomatal closure on transpiration. However, small decreases in transpiration, leaf temperature, and incident irradiance associated with leaf rolling may decrease the potential for photoinhibition, prolong physiological activity, and increase survival during drought.
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