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Image and Physiological Data: Biophysically Informed Imaging Acquisition of Plant Water Status

posted on 21.05.2021, 17:33 by Daniel P. Beverly, Carmela R. Guadagno, Brent E. Ewers
Vegetation controls carbon and water fluxes because of the fundamental tradeoff between carbon dioxide uptake and water loss occurring when stomata are open. Quantifying the rates of this exchange typically requires either intensive gas exchange or destructive harvesting of tissues and mass spectrometry analyses. Recent developments in high-throughput methods have enhanced our capacity to empirically test plant–environmental interactions. The vast integration characterizing satellite remote sensing methods masks organ-level physiological mechanisms limiting the predictive capability of current process models. Hence, more ground truth studies are necessary to determine the amount of mechanistic information needed to improve our understanding of forest, crop, and land management. Imaging methodologies, such as thermal and chlorophyll a fluorescence, are currently used to collect information for relevant traits such as water use, growth, and stress response. We tested these techniques during progressive drought across species with different susceptibility in controlled greenhouse conditions. We chose two highly represented tree species in North America: the gymnosperm Pinus ponderosa and the angiosperm Populus tremuloides. To better explore the whole drought response parameter space, we also tested a crop (Brassica rapa) and desert shrub (Artemisia tridentata). Thermal and fluorescence images of the canopy were coupled with leaf-level measurements as we performed three tests to predict drought response using (1) leaf temperature, (2) chlorophyll a fluorescence, and (3) the combination of the two. At 5 days of drought, leaf temperature increased 7 and 10%, accounting for 63 and 73% of the variation in stomatal conductance for both tree species, respectively. The fluorescence signal from images decreased 0.12% and 0.83% in moderately and severely droughted leaves respectively, reaching zero at mortality. Leaf water status was then predicted using a Bayesian approach that incorporated measurements’ uncertainty and parsimony in the analysis of the parameters. Changes in canopy temperature provided confident predictions for the reductions of daily evapotranspiration at the onset of drought. Empirically combining thermal and fluorescence measurements improved predictions (R2 = 0.81) of midday leaf water potential compared to univariate models. Our results represent an important step toward quantifying plant water status during drought using first principles that do not require species-specific information.







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