Water Balance in Plants

Guiding Question:  How do plants maintain stable internal water concentrations as the temperature and moisture change?


Directions:  Gather evidence from this page (and links from this page) to support your claim.  You may not use any other webpages or sources.  Organize your evidence in a Claim Evidence Reasoning poster on the whiteboard.  

Step 1)  Gather Evidence
Step 2)  Make a Claim
Step 3)  Use reasoning to connect your evidence to your claim.



In botany, a stoma (plural "stomata"), also called a stomata (plural "stomates") is a pore, found in the epidermis of leaves, stems, and other organs, that facilitates gas exchange. The pore is bordered by a pair of specialized parenchyma cells known as guard cells that are responsible for regulating the size of the stomatal opening.

The term is usually used collectively to refer to the entire stomatal complex, consisting of the paired guard cells and the pore itself, which is referred to as the stomatal aperture. Air enters the plant through these openings by gaseous diffusion, and contains carbon dioxide and oxygen, which are used in photosynthesis and respiration, respectively. Oxygen produced as a by-product of photosynthesis diffuses out to the atmosphere through these same openings. Also, water vapor diffuses through the stomata into the atmosphere in a process called transpiration. The movement of water vapor out and /or carbon dioxide in can be measured through stomatal conductance.

Root Hairs

A root hair, or absorbent hair, the rhizoid of a vascular plant, is a tubular outgrowth of a trichoblast, a hair-forming cell on the epidermis of a plant root. As they are lateral extensions of a single cell and only rarely branched, they are visible to the naked eye.

The root hairs are where most water absorption happens. They are long and thin so they can penetrate between soil particles, and prevent harmful bacterial organisms from entering the plant through the xylem vessels. They have a large surface area for absorption of water. Increasing root surface area aids plants to be more efficient in absorbing nutrients and establishing relationships with microbes.[2] Cross-section of root hair cell: a roughly rectangular shape with a long, thin tail extending to the right and a nucleus at the top left. Water passes from the soil water to the root hair cell’s cytoplasm by osmosis.

Vascular Tissue

The cells in vascular tissue are typically long and slender. Since the xylem and phloem function in the conduction of water, minerals, and nutrients throughout the plant, it is not surprising that their form should be similar to pipes. The individual cells of phloem are connected end-to-end, just as the sections of a pipe might be. As the plant grows, new vascular tissue differentiates in the growing tips of the plant. The new tissue is aligned with existing vascular tissue, maintaining its connection throughout the plant


Stomatal Conductance Increases with Rising Temperature. - Link to Study


Stomatal conductance directly modifies plant water relations and photosynthesis. Many environmental factors affecting the stomatal conductance have been intensively studied but temperature has been largely neglected, even though it is one of the fastest changing environmental variables and it is rising due to climate change. In this study, we describe how stomata open when the temperature increases. Stomatal conductance increased by ca 40% in a broadleaf and a coniferous species, poplar (Populus deltoides x nigra) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) when temperature was increased by 10 °C, from 30 °C to 40 °C at a constant vapor pressure deficit of 1 kPa. The mechanism of regulating stomatal conductance by temperature was, at least partly, independent of other known mechanisms linked to water status and carbon metabolism. Stomatal conductance increased with rising temperature despite the decrease in leaf water potential, increase in transpiration, increase in intercellular CO2 concentration and was decoupled from photosynthesis. Increase in xylem and mesophyll hydraulic conductance coming from lower water viscosity may to some degree explain temperature dependent opening of stomata. The direct stomatal response to temperature allows plants to benefit from increased evaporative cooling during the heat waves and from lower stomatal limitations to photosynthesis but they may be jeopardized by faster depletion of soil water.

Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought? - Link to Study


Severe droughts have been associated with regional‐scale forest mortality worldwide. Climate change is expected to exacerbate regional mortality events; however, prediction remains difficult because the physiological mechanisms underlying drought survival and mortality are poorly understood. We developed a hydraulically based theory considering carbon balance and insect resistance that allowed development and examination of hypotheses regarding survival and mortality. Multiple mechanisms may cause mortality during drought. A common mechanism for plants with isohydric regulation of water status results from avoidance of drought‐induced hydraulic failure via stomatal closure, resulting in carbon starvation and a cascade of downstream effects such as reduced resistance to biotic agents. Mortality by hydraulic failure per se may occur for isohydric seedlings or trees near their maximum height. Although anisohydric plants are relatively drought‐tolerant, they are predisposed to hydraulic failure because they operate with narrower hydraulic safety margins during drought. Elevated temperatures should exacerbate carbon starvation and hydraulic failure. Biotic agents may amplify and be amplified by drought‐induced plant stress. Wet multidecadal climate oscillations may increase plant susceptibility to drought‐induced mortality by stimulating shifts in hydraulic architecture, effectively predisposing plants to water stress. Climate warming and increased frequency of extreme events will probably cause increased regional mortality episodes. Isohydric and anisohydric water potential regulation may partition species between survival and mortality, and, as such, incorporating this hydraulic framework may be effective for modeling plant survival and mortality under future climate conditions.

Transcriptome analysis reveals the role of the root hairs as environmental sensors to maintain plant functions under water-deficiency conditions - Link to Study


An important part of the root system is the root hairs, which play a role in mineral and water uptake. Here, we present an analysis of the transcriptomic response to water deficiency of the wild-type (WT) barley cultivar ‘Karat’ and its root-hairless mutant rhl1.a. A comparison of the transcriptional changes induced by water stress resulted in the identification of genes whose expression was specifically affected in each genotype. At the onset of water stress, more genes were modulated by water shortage in the roots of the WT plants than in the roots of rhl1.a. The roots of the WT plants, but not of rhl1.a, specifically responded with the induction of genes that are related to the abscisic acid biosynthesis, stomatal closure, and cell wall biogenesis, thus indicating the specific activation of processes that are related to water-stress signalling and protection. On the other hand, the processes involved in the further response to abiotic stimuli, including hydrogen peroxide, heat, and high light intensity, were specifically up-regulated in the leaves of rhl1.a. An extended period of severe stress caused more drastic transcriptome changes in the roots and leaves of the rhl1.a mutant than in those of the WT. These results are in agreement with the much stronger damage to photosystem II in the rhl1.a mutant than in its parent cultivar after 10 d of water stress. Taking into account the putative stress sensing and signalling features of the root hair transcriptome, we discuss the role of root hairs as sensors of environmental conditions.