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Stomatal oscillations in olive trees: analysis and methodological implications

López-Bernal, Alvaro, García-Tejera, Omar, Testi, Luca, Orgaz, Francisco, Villalobos, Francisco J
Tree physiology 2017 v.38 no.4 pp. 531-542
Olea europaea, cultivars, leaves, olives, photosynthesis, sap flow, stomatal conductance, tree physiology, trees, water potential, water stress
Stomatal oscillations have long been disregarded in the literature despite the fact that the phenomenon has been described for a variety of plant species. This study aims to characterize the occurrence of oscillations in olive trees (Olea europaea L.) under different growing conditions and its methodological implications. Three experiments with young potted olives and one with large field-grown trees were performed. Sap flow measurements were always used to monitor the occurrence of oscillations, with additional determinations of trunk diameter variations and leaf-level stomatal conductance, photosynthesis and water potential also conducted in some cases. Strong oscillations with periods of 30–60 min were generally observed for young trees, while large field trees rarely showed significant oscillations. Severe water stress led to the disappearance of oscillations, but moderate water deficits occasionally promoted them. Simultaneous oscillations were also found for leaf stomatal conductance, leaf photosynthesis and trunk diameter, with the former presenting the highest amplitudes. The strong oscillations found in young potted olive trees preclude the use of infrequent measurements of stomatal conductance and related variables to characterize differences between trees of different cultivars or subjected to different experimental treatments. Under these circumstances, our results suggest that reliable estimates could be obtained using measurement intervals below 15 min.