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The relationship between plant growth and water consumption: a history from the classical four elements to modern stable isotopes

Abstract : REVIEW PAPERThe relationship between plant growth and water consumption:a history from the classical four elements to modern stable isotopesOliver Brendel1Received: 26 November 2020 /Accepted: 14 April 2021#INRAE and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2021Abstract&Key messageThe history of the relationship between plant growth and water consumption is retraced by following theprogression of scientific thought through the centuries: from a purely philosophical question, to conceptual and meth-odological developments, towards a research interest in plant functioning and the interaction with the environment.&ContextThe relationship between plant growth and water consumption has for a long time occupied the minds of philosophersand natural scientists. The ratio between biomass accumulation and water consumption is known as water use efficiency and iswidely relevant today in fields as diverse as plant improvement, forest ecology and climate change. Defined at scales varyingfrom single leaf physiology to whole plants, it shows how botanical investigations changed through time, generally in tandemwith developing disciplines and improving methods. The history started as a purely philosophical question by Greek philoso-phers of how plants grow, progressed through thought and actual experiments, towards an interest in the functioning of plants andthe relationship to the environment.&AimsThis article retraces this history by following the progression of scientific questions posed through the centuries, andpresents not only the main methodological and conceptual developments on biomass growth and transpiration but also thedevelopment of the carbon isotopic method of estimation. The history of research on photosynthesis is only touched briefly,but the development of research on transpiration and stomatal conductance is presented with more detail.&ConclusionResearch on water use efficiency, following a path from the whole plant to leaf-level functioning, was stronglyinvolved in the historical development of the discipline of plant ecophysiology and is still a very active research field acrossnearly all levels of botanical research.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - 10:21:33 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:57:32 PM

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Oliver Brendel. The relationship between plant growth and water consumption: a history from the classical four elements to modern stable isotopes. Annals of Forest Science, Springer Nature (since 2011)/EDP Science (until 2010), 2021, 78 (2), pp.1-16. ⟨10.1007/s13595-021-01063-2⟩. ⟨hal-03225004⟩

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