Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (9): 1020-1032.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0366

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Plant water-regulation strategies: Isohydric versus anisohydric behavior

Dan-Dan LUO, Chuan-Kuan WANG*(), Ying JIN   

  1. Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
  • Received:2016-11-29 Revised:2017-05-31 Online:2017-09-10 Published:2017-10-23
  • Contact: Chuan-Kuan WANG


Water is a vital resource for plant survival, growth and distribution, and it is of significance to explore mechanisms of plant water-relations regulation and responses to drought in ecophysiology and global change ecology. Plants adapt to different climates and soil water regimes and develop divergent water-regulation strategies involving a suite of related traits, of which two typical types are isohydric and anisohydric behaviors. It is critical to distinguish water-regulation strategies of plants and reveal the underlying mechanisms for plant breeding and vegetation restoration especially in xeric regions; and it is also important for developing more accurate vegetation dynamic models and predicting vegetation distribution under climate change scenarios. In this review, we first recalled the definitions of isohydric and anisohydric regulations and three quantitative classification methods that were established based on the relationships (1) between stomatal conductance and leaf water potential, (2) between stomatal conductance and vapor pressure deficit, (3) between predawn and midday leaf water potentials. We then compared the two water-regulation strategies in terms of hydraulics and carbon-economics traits. We synthesized the mechanisms of plant water-regulation and found that the interaction between hydraulic and chemical signals was the dominant factor controlling plant water-regulation behavior. Last, we proposed three promising aspects in this field: (1) to explore reliable and universal methods for classifying plant water-regulation strategies based on extensive investigation of the traits related with plant water-relations in various regions; (2) to explore relationships between plant water-regulation strategies and traits of hydraulics, morphology, structure, and function in order to provide reliable parameters for improving vegetation dynamic models; and (3) to deeply understand the processes of plant water-regulation at different spatial and temporal scales, and reveal mechanisms of plants’ responses and adaption to environmental stresses (especially drought).

Key words: drought stress, xylem embolism, climate change, stomatal regulation, hydraulic failure, plant trait