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Drought-Induced Mortality: Branch Diameter Variation Reveals a Point of No Recovery in Lavender Species

Abstract : In the context of climate change, determining the physiological mechanisms of drought-induced mortality in woody plants and identifying thresholds of drought survivorship will improve forecasts of forest and agroecosystem die-off. Here, we tested whether continuous measurements of branch diameter variation can be used to identify thresholds of hydraulic failure and physiological recoverability in lavender (Lavandula angustifoliaandLavandulaxintermedia) plants exposed to severe drought. Two parameters of branch diameter variation were tested: the percentage loss of diameter and the percentage loss of rehydration capacity. In two greenhouse experiments with different growth conditions, we monitored variation in branch diameter in the two lavender species exposed to a series of drought/rewatering cycles that varied in drought-stress intensity. Water potential, stomatal conductance, loss of xylem hydraulic conductance, and electrolyte leakage were also measured. We observed that plants were not able to recover when percentage loss of diameter reached maximum values of 21.3% +/- 0.6% during drought, regardless of species and growth conditions. A percentage loss of rehydration capacity of 100% was defined as the point of no recovery, and was observed with high levels of cellular damage as estimated by electrolyte leakage measured at 75.4% +/- 9.3% and occurred beyond 88% loss of xylem hydraulic conductance. Our study demonstrates that lavender plants are not able to recover from severe drought when they have used up their elastic water storage. Additionally, drought-induced mortality in these species was not linked to xylem hydraulic failure but rather to high levels of cell damage. Under extreme drought, death of lavender plants occurs when the water storage of the elastic compartment of the branch is exhausted.
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Contributor : Thierry Ameglio <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 18, 2020 - 12:17:14 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 26, 2021 - 10:36:02 AM

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Lia Lamacque, Guillaume Charrier, Fernanda dos Santos Farnese, Benjamin Lemaire, Thierry Ameglio, et al.. Drought-Induced Mortality: Branch Diameter Variation Reveals a Point of No Recovery in Lavender Species. Plant Physiology, American Society of Plant Biologists, 2020, 183 (4), pp.1638-1649. ⟨10.1104/pp.20.00165⟩. ⟨hal-02942841⟩



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