Water flow and water storage in Agave deserti: osmotic implications of crassulacean acid metabolism
SMITH JAC., SCHULTE PJ., NOBEL PS.
Abstract Water flow and water storage were investigated for Agave deserti, a desert succulent showing crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). The anatomy and water relations of the peripheral chlorenchyma, where CAM occurs, and the central water‐storage parenchyma were investigated for its massive leaves so that these tissues could be incorporated as discrete elements into an electrical‐circuit analogue of the whole plant. The daily cycling of osmotic pressure was represented by voltage sources in series with the storage capacitors. With soil water potential and leaf transpiration rate as input variables, axial water flow through the vascular bundles and radial flows into and out of storage during the day/night cycle were determined. The predominantly nocturnal transpiration was coincident with increases in cell osmotic pressure and in titratable acid of the leaf chlorenchyma. In the outer layers of the chlorenchyma, water potential was most negative at the beginning of the night when transpiration was maximum, while the water‐storage parenchyma reached its minimal water potential 9 h later. The roots plus stem contributed 7% and the leaves contributed 50% to the total water flow during maximal transpiration; peak water flow from the soil to the roots occurred at dawn and was only 58% of the maximal transpiration rate. Over each 24‐h period, 39% of the water lost from the plant was derived from storage, with flow into storage occurring mainly during the daytime. Simulations showed that the acid accumulation rhythm of CAM had little impact on water uptake from the soil under the conditions employed. In the outer chlorenchyma, water potential and water flows were more sensitive to the day/night changes in transpiration than in osmotic pressure. Nevertheless, cell osmotic pressure had a large influence on turgor pressure in this tissue and determined the extent to which storage was recharged during the latter part of the night. Copyright © 1987, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved