Photosynthetic limitations caused by different rates of water-deficit induction in Glycine max and Vigna unguiculata

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Plants are constantly subjected to variations in their surrounding environment, which affect their functioning in different ways. The influence of environmental factors on the physiology of plants depends on several factors including the intensity, duration and frequency of the variation of the external stimulus. Water deficit is one of the main limiting factors for agricultural production worldwide and affects many physiological processes in plants. The aim of this study was to analyse the effects of different rates of induced water deficit on the leaf photosynthetic responses of soybean (Glycine max L.) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.). The plants were subjected to two types of water deficit induction: a rapid induction (RD) by which detached leaves were dehydrated by the exposure to air under controlled conditions and a slow induction (SD) by suspending irrigation under greenhouse conditions. The leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll (Chl) a fluorescence, and relative water content (RWC) were analysed throughout the water-deficit induction. V. unguiculata and G. max demonstrated similar dehydration as the soil water percentage declined under SD, with V. unguiculata showing a greater stomatal sensitivity to reductions in the RWC. V. unguiculata plants were more sensitive to water deficit, as determined by all of the physiological parameters when subjected to RD, and the net photosynthetic rate (P (N)) was sharply reduced in the early stages of dehydration. After the plants exposed to the SD treatment were rehydrated, V. unguiculata recovered 65% of the P (N) in relation to the values measured under the control conditions (initial watering state), whereas G. max recovered only 10% of the P (N). Thus, the better stomatal control of V. unguiculata could enable the maintenance of the RWC and a more efficient recovery of the P (N) than G. max.




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Photosynthetica. Dordrecht: Springer, v. 50, n. 3, p. 329-336, 2012.

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