Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (10): 1021-1032.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0099

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles    

Trade-offs between plant leaf hydraulic and economic traits

JIN Ying, WANG Chuan-Kuan*()   

  1. Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
  • Online:2015-10-01 Published:2015-10-24
  • Contact: Chuan-Kuan WANG
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


Leaf is the most important organ for carbon-water coupling of a plant because it is the primary medium for photosynthesis. It also acts as the hydraulic bottleneck and safety valve against hydraulic catastrophic dysfunctions. The leaf economics spectrum, which reflects the balance between investments and returns of leaf economic traits, provides a useful framework for examining species strategies as shaped by their evolutionary history. Changes in leaf hydraulic traits will influence leaf economic traits as well as plant survival and growth. Exploring trade-offs between leaf hydraulic and economic traits is thus of significance for modeling carbon-water relations, understanding the mechanisms of water/carbon investments, and extending the leaf economic spectrum. In this review, we first examined the trade-offs between leaf hydraulic and economic traits. Specially, we analyzed the relationships between leaf hydraulic conductivity and hydraulic vulnerability, water potential at the turgor loss point, water capacitance, safety margin, and leaf morphological, structural and functional traits. We then discussed potential mechanisms regulating leaf hydraulic and economic traits from leaf morphology, anatomy, venation, and stomatal functions. Finally, we proposed future research to: (1) develop an integrated whole-plant economics spectrum, including carbon-nitrogen-water resources and root-stem-leaf hydraulic transport system that will help revealing ecophysiological mechanisms of plant structure-functional coupling, carbon sequestration and water use; (2) explore a generalized trade-offs among leaf hydraulic safety, hydraulic efficiency and carbon fixation efficiency to advance our understanding of the relationships between biophysical structure and physiological metabolism in plant leaf construction under drought stress; and (3) explore the carbon-water metabolic relationship and coupling of water transport and growth rate for the metabolic theory and predictions at community scale.

Key words: leaf hydraulic trait, venation architecture, leaf economic trait, hydraulic conductivity, anatomical structure, stomatal regulation