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Water deficits uncouple growth from photosynthesis, increase C content, and modify the relationships between C and growth in sink organs

Abstract : In plants, carbon (C) molecules provide building blocks for biomass production, fuel for energy, and exert signalling roles to shape development and metabolism. Accordingly, plant growth is well correlated with light interception and energy conversion through photosynthesis. Because water deficits close stomata and thus reduce C entry, it has been hypothesised that droughted plants are under C starvation and their growth under C limitation. In this review, these points are questioned by combining literature review with experimental and modelling illustrations in various plant organs and species. First, converging evidence is gathered from the literature that water deficit generally increases C concentration in plant organs. The hypothesis is raised that this could be due to organ expansion (as a major C sink) being affected earlier and more intensively than photosynthesis (C source) and metabolism. How such an increase is likely to interact with C signalling is not known. Hence, the literature is reviewed for possible links between C and stress signalling that could take part in this interaction. Finally, the possible impact of water deficit-induced C accumulation on growth is questioned for various sink organs of several species by combining published as well as new experimental data or data generated using a modelling approach. To this aim, robust correlations between C availability and sink organ growth are reported in the absence of water deficit. Under water deficit, relationships weaken or are modified suggesting release of the influence of C availability on sink organ growth. These results are interpreted as the signature of a transition from source to sink growth limitation under water deficit.
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Bertrand Muller, Florent Pantin, Michel Génard, Olivier Turc, Sandra Freixes, et al.. Water deficits uncouple growth from photosynthesis, increase C content, and modify the relationships between C and growth in sink organs. Journal of Experimental Botany, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2011, 62 (6), pp.1715-1729. ⟨10.1093/jxb/erq438⟩. ⟨hal-02650675⟩

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