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Aquaporins and water control in drought-stressed poplar leaves: A glimpse into the extraxylem vascular territories

Muries, Beatriz, Mom, Robin, Benoit, Pierrick, Brunel-michac, Nicole, Cochard, Hervé, Drevet, Patricia, Petel, Gilles, Badel, Eric, Fumanal, Boris, Gousset-dupont, Aurélie, Julien, Jean-Louis, Label, Philippe, Auguin, Daniel, Venisse, Jean-Stéphane
Environmental and experimental botany 2019 v.162 pp. 25-37
Populus deltoides, aquaporins, climate change, drought, ecophysiology, embolism, enzymes, hydraulic conductivity, in situ hybridization, leaves, micro-computed tomography, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, stomatal conductance, trees, water content, water stress, xylem
Leaf hydraulic conductance (Kleaf) and capacitance (Cleaf) are among the key parameters in plant-water regulation. Understanding the responses of these hydraulic traits to drought conditions remains a challenge for describing comprehensive plant-water relationships. The ability of an organism to resist and/or tolerate embolism events, which may occur at high negative pressure caused by hydric stress, relies on how well it can sustain a hydraulic system in a dynamic equilibrium. Populus deltoides is a water-saving tree species with a stomatal conductance that declines rapidly with reduced water availability. Under unfavorable conditions, the stomatal control of transpiration is known to be closely coordinated with a loss of plant hydraulic functioning that can ultimately result in hydraulic failure through xylem embolism, notably in leaves. The effects of drought on leaf hydraulics are also related to regulation in water permeases such as the aquaporins. To describe the responses linked to leaf hydraulics under severe drought and rewatering conditions, water-stressed poplars were monitored daily on an ecophysiological and a molecular scale. A structural and expression analysis on a set of aquaporins was carried out in parallel by in situ hybridization analysis and quantitative PCR. In complement, water distribution in water-challenged leaves was investigated using X-ray microtomography. A general depression of leaf hydraulic conductance and relative water content occurred under drought, but was reversed when plants were rewatered. More interestingly, (i) extreme leaf water deficiency led to marked xylem and lamina embolism, but a degree of hydric integrity in the midrib extraxylem territories and the bundle sheath of the minor veins was maintained, and (ii) the sub-tissue water allocation correlated well with an over-accumulation of several PIP and TIP aquaporins. Our multi-facet molecular ecophysiological approach revealed that leaves were able to secure a certain level of hydric status, in particular in cell territories near the “living ribs”, which provided rapid hydric adjustment responses once favorable conditions were restored. These findings contribute to an integrated approach to leaf hydraulics, thus favoring a better understanding of the cell mechanisms involved in tree vulnerability to climate changes.