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Whole-plant transpiration in Populus sp.: its determination, nocturnal effects and influence by form of nitrogen Open Access


Other title
Night-time transpiration
Nitrogen form
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cirelli, Damián
Supervisor and department
Lieffers, Victor (Renewable Resources)
Tyree, Melvin (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Zwiazek, Janusz (Renewable Resources)
Hacke, Uwe (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Forest Biology and Management
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Water is a crucial factor in the life of land plants. Transpiration (E) is inevitable and it is viewed as the universal cost of accessing a CO2-rich atmosphere. Although we now know that plants lose water at night, it had been assumed that stomata remained closed after dark. Renewed interest has encouraged more research on night-time E. An overlooked challenge in this area is that of measuring water loss. Most of the current research relies on leaf-level measurements using gas analysers. This presents many complications and although the instruments are simple to operate, it is not a trivial task to measure E properly, especially at night. I present a system that includes instructions to build the hardware platform and the software package, which utilises balances to measure E simultaneously and continuously from multiple specimens. The system is particularly suited to measuring nocturnal E of whole plants since it requires minimal interaction and it is not intrusive for the plant. With this system, a survey of whole-plant nocturnal E was carried out on four species of Populus with a range of habitat preference from riparian to upland. This survey characterises night-time water loss in relation to habitat, showing that Populus from drier environments may curtail night-time E more readily than riparian species. The survey also investigates the effect of drought on nocturnal E, arguing that night-time sap flow may be associated with one or more physiological functions. Lastly, the effect of two forms of N (NO3- and NH4+) on whole-plant conductance is analysed in two hybrid poplars with different growth potentials. NH4+ is shown to depress day-time, but not night-time conductance in comparison with NO3-; likely due to a change in stomatal function. Root anatomy was radically changed in a species-dependent manner when grown under different N forms. Some of these changes reflect different metabolic needs associated with each N form, while others may have a direct bearing on plant hydraulics.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Cirelli D, Lieffers VJ, Tyree MT. 2012. Measuring whole-plant transpiration gravimetrically: a scalable automated system built from components. Trees 26: 1669-1676.

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