Does short-term potassium fertilization improve recovery from drought stress in laurel?

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Xylem hydraulic conductance varies in response to changes in sap solute content, and in particular of potassium (K+) ion concentration. This phenomenon, known as the ‘ionic effect’, is enhanced in embolized stems, where it can compensate for cavitation-induced loss of hydraulic conductance. Previous studies have shown that in well-watered laurel plants (Laurus nobilis L.), potassium concentration of the xylem sap and plant hydraulic conductance increased 24 h after fertilization with KCl. The aim of this work was to test whether water-stressed laurel plants, grown under low potassium availability, could recover earlier from stress when irrigated with a KCl solution instead of potassium-free water. Two-year-old potted laurel seedlings were subjected to water stress by suspending irrigation until leaf conductance to water vapour (gL) dropped to ∼30% of its initial value and leaf water potential (ψL) reached the turgor loss point (ψTLP). Plants were then irrigated either with water or with 25 mM KCl and monitored for water status, gas exchange and plant hydraulics recovery at 3, 6 and 24 h after irrigation. No significant differences were found between the two experimental groups in terms of ψL, gL, plant transpiration, plant hydraulic conductance or leaf-specific shoot hydraulic conductivity. Analysis of xylem sap potassium concentration showed that there were no significant differences between treatments, and potassium levels were similar to those of potassium-starved but well-watered plants. In conclusion, potassium uptake from the soil solution and/or potassium release to the xylem appeared to be impaired in water-stressed plants, at least up to 24 h after relief from water stress, so that fertilization after the onset of stress did not result in any short-term advantage for recovery from drought.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine8
RivistaTree Physiology
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1300.1314???
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