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Advanced plant-based, internet-sensor technology gives new insights into hydraulic plant functioning

Zimmermann, U., Bitter, R., Schüttler, A., Ehrenberger, W., Rüger, S., Bramley, H., Siddique, K., Arend, M., Bader, M.K.F.
Acta horticulturae 2013 no.991 pp. 313-320
Internet, climatic factors, drought, irradiation, leaves, sap, sap flow, telemetry, temperature, trees, turgor
Relative changes of turgor pressure of leafy higher plants and trees can be measured by the non-invasive leaf patch clamp pressure probe (so-called ZIM-probe) with high sensitivity. The ZIM-probe is characterised by operating convenience and robustness and, therefore, allows long-term measurements under field conditions. Probe data are sent by wireless telemetry and mobile network to an internet server from which the data can be downloaded, viewed and analysed in real time. Drought effects on the water supply of leaves can clearly be distinguished from those induced by climate factors (such as temperature or light irradiation). The temporal and spatial dynamics of plant water relations can be revealed on the scale of a single leaf but also at the whole plant (tree) level by simultaneous multiple probe readings at different heights and orientations. Furthermore, concomitant ZIM-probe, dendrometer and sap flow measurements have given intriguing insight into the complex non-linear sap flow-leaf turgor pressure pattern within tree canopies indicating possible roles of water storage compartments and complex adaptations to drought in maintaining water supply of leaves.