Root water uptake and transport: using physiological processes in global predictions.
Plant water loss, regulated by stomata and driven by atmospheric demand, cannot exceed the maximum steady-state supply through roots. Just as an electric circuit breaks when carrying excess current, the soil-plant continuum breaks if forced to transport water beyond its capacity. Exciting new molecular, biophysical and ecological research suggests that roots are the weakest link along this hydraulic flow path. We attempt here to predict rooting depth and water uptake using the hydraulic properties of plants and the soil, and also to suggest how new physiological tools might contribute to larger-scale studies of hydraulic lift, the water balance and biosphere-atmosphere interactions.
Jackson, RB; Sperry, JS; Dawson, TE
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