Little is known about the physiological changes that occur during acclimatization and how these changes influence plant survival and growth in the new environment. In particular, it is unclear to what extent in vitro-formed roots are functional in water uptake, particularly when the plantlet is exposed to conditions of increasing evaporative demand. Tissue-cultured shoots and plantlets (shoots with roots) were acclimatized by exposing them to a linear reduction in relative humidity (RH) from 99 % to 75%over 4 days. When conductance was measured at 95% RH (21 C), in vitro shoots and plantlets showed a very high initial conductance, followed by a gradual decline, reaching steady state in 12 hours. Acclimatized shoots and plantlets had a 50% lower initial conductance compared to nonacclimatized ones, and reached steady state in 4 hours. The reduction in conductance as a result of acclimatization most likely contributes to a reduced transpiration under conditions of increased evaporative demand. Roots formed in vitro were associated with a higher plant water status, suggesting that these roots were functional in water uptake. Relative water content of the shoot was positively correlated with leaf conductance and net photosynthesis. We suggest that tissue-cultured plantlets behave as hydraulically integrated units, in which there must be a coordination between control of water loss by the shoot and uptake of water by the root to maintain a favorable plant water balance. Our results also indicate that methods that use excised shoots or leaves to determine transpiration gravimetrically may not accurately represent the stomatal water loss characteristics of tissue-cultured plants.
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