The effects of potassium (K) status and water availability in the growth medium on growth, water content, water-use efficiency and stomatal conductance was studied in mist-rooted `Chemlali de Sfax' olive (Olea europaea L.) cuttings grown in a perlite substrate. Potassium starvation produced dehydration of all parts of the plant, reduced shoot growth and water-use efficiency. By contrast, K starvation enhanced stomatal conductance in well-irrigated plants and, even more, in water-stressed plants. These results suggest that moderate K deficiency in olives may impair the plant's ability to regulate stomatal closure; this may account for the dehydration observed in K-starved plants, particularly in situations of water stress. This result is of great importance for agricultural practices of this crop, because K status, which may not be considered deficient, can cause disorders in olive trees.
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