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Stem growth habit affects leaf morphology and gas exchange traits in soybean

Tanaka, Yu, Shiraiwa, Tatsuhiko
Annals of botany 2009 v.104 no.7 pp. 1293-1299
Glycine max, determinate growth, gas exchange, guard cells, indeterminate growth, isogenic lines, leaf area, leaf conductance, leaves, plant development, soybeans, stem elongation, stems, stomatal conductance
BACKGROUNDS AND AIMS: The stem growth habit, determinate or indeterminate, of soybean, Glycine max, varieties affects various plant morphological and developmental traits. The objective of this study is to identify the effect of stem growth habit in soybean on the stomatal conductance of single leaves in relation to their leaf morphology in order to better understand the ecological and agronomic significance of this plant trait. METHODS: The stomatal conductance of leaves on the main stem was measured periodically under favourable field conditions to evaluate gmax, defined as the maximum stomatal conductance at full leaf expansion, for four varieties of soybean and their respective determinate or indeterminate near isogenic lines (NILs). Leaf morphological traits including stomatal density, guard cell length and vein density were also measured. KEY RESULTS: The value of gmax ranged from 0·383 to 0·754 mol H₂O m⁻² s⁻¹ across all the genotypes for both years. For the four pairs of varieties, the indeterminate lines exhibited significantly greater gmax, stomatal density, numbers of epidermal cells per unit area and total vein length per unit area than their respective determinate NILs in both years. The guard cell length, leaf mass per area and single leaf size all tended to be greater in the determinate types. The variation of gmax across genotypes and years was well explained by the product of stomatal density and guard cell length (r = 0·86, P < 0·01). CONCLUSIONS: The indeterminate stem growth habit resulted in a greater maximum stomatal conductance for soybean than the determinate habit, and this was attributed to the differences in leaf structure. This raises the further hypothesis that the difference in stem growth habit results in different water use characteristics of soybean plants in the field. Stomatal conductance under favourable conditions can be modified by leaf morphological traits.