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W.L. Bauerle, T.H. Whitlow, T.L. Setter, and F.M. Vermeylen

Quantitative differences in leaf abscisic acid (ABA) among Acer rubrum L. (red maple) ecotypes were investigated. This study tested the hypothesis that seedlings from wet and dry maternal sites display distinctly different capacities to synthesize ABA in response to atmospheric vapor pressure deficits. The increased levels of ABA in leaf tissue in the red maple ecotypes were associated with atmospheric vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Leaves on well-watered plants responded to VPD by increasing their ABA levels and reducing their photosynthesis (Anet) and stomatal conductance (gs). Both ecotypes appear to accumulate ABA at about the same rate as VPD increased. Despite the similar accumulation rates between ecotypes, wet site ecotypes consistently had a higher level of ABA present in leaf tissue under both low and high VPD conditions. Furthermore, wet site provenances appear to reduce Anet and gs in response to ABA accumulation, whereas dry sites do not present as clear an ABA/gs relationship. This study shows variation between wet and dry site red maple populations in physiological response to atmospheric vapor pressure deficits, indicating that natural ecotypic variation in stomatal responsiveness to air humidity is likely mediated by ABA accumulation in leaf tissue. This research demonstrates that ecotypes of red maple may be selected for atmospheric drought tolerance based on site moisture conditions.

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L.E. Hinesley and L.K. Snelling

Abbreviations: MC, moisture content; ψ, needle water potential; VPD, vapor pressure deficit. 1 Associate Professor. 2 Agricultural Research Technician. This research was funded by the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, Raleigh, NC

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Toshio Shibuya, Akihito Sugimoto, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Makoto Kiyota

water stress resulting from high vapor-pressure deficit (VPD). Under higher plant density, the VPD near the leaf surface decreases as a result of the thicker boundary layer ( Kim et al., 1996b ; Kitaya et al., 1998 ), which inhibits water vapor exchange

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Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi, Alan L. Wright, Brian J. Boman, Arnold W. Schumann, Fred G. Gmitter, and Jude W. Grosser

(A) leaf transpiration (E) and (B) leaf vapor pressure deficit (VPD) after the first year of transplant under different coverings [enclosed screen houses and open-air (control)] and planting methods (in-ground and container-grown). The purpose of

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Laurent Gauthier, Maher Trigui, André Boisvert, and Mohamed Benmoussa

Transpiration is essential to the performance of tomato plants. In greenhouses, transpiration can be impeded by low vapor-pressure deficits (VPD). An experiment was conducted to measure the effect of VPD on transpiration rates for greenhouse tomatoes grown on a nutrient film. Four treatments were applied: high (0.8 kpa) day and night VPDs; high day and low night (0.4 kPa) VPDs; low day and low night VPDs; and variable VPDs. The VPD was controlled using fogging and ventilation. Hourly transpiration values were recorded. Results show a significant difference between treatments. The measured transpiration rates were compared to the values calculated with a transpiration model. A good fit between measured and calculated values was observed. The model is being used within a dynamic VPD control strategy.

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Driss Iraqi, Serge Gagnon, Sylvain Dubé, and André Gosselin

Tomato production represents >70% of all greenhouse vegetables produced in Quebec, Canada. To obtain high yields and high quality fruit, an adequate control of greenhouse environmental characteristics, including the vapor pressure deficit (VPD), is necessary. Our study examines four VPD treatments (0.5 kPa day and night, 0.8 kPa day and night, 0.8 kPa day 0.5 kPa night, and automatic VPD management according to transpiration) and three photoperiods [12 h, 14 h, and variable-12 h (summer) 16 h (winter)] on growth, yield, and photosynthetic capacity of tomato plants. Greenhouse temperature was maintained at 22C day/18C night. Pure CO2 was injected into the greenhouse to maintain a constant atmospheric concentration of 800 ppm throughout the experiment. Growth, yield, and leaf mineral composition were determined monthly for each treatment during the experiment. The photosynthetic rate of the 5th and 10th leaves also were measured in addition to the content of chlorophyll a and b. Our results indicated an increase in total yield and photosynthetic rate under a VPD of 0.8 kPa during day and night. An increase in leaf mineral concentration also was noted in plants grown under high VPD. Differences in yield and photosynthetic capacity were not found between the three photoperiods studied. However, there was a tendency to have higher yields under longer photoperiods.

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Ami N. Erickson and Albert H. Markhart

High temperature reduces fruit set in bell pepper [Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum (Grossum Group)], and reduction of pepper productivity, resulting from high temperature, may be a direct effect of temperature or an indirect effect of water stress induced by increased vapor pressure deficits (VPDs) at high temperature. We evaluated responses of plant growth, reproduction, net photosynthesis (PN), chlorophyll fluorescence, predawn respiration, leaf water potential, and stomatal conductance of `Ace' and `Bell Boy' bell pepper to elevated temperature (33 °C) with increased VPD (2.1 kPa) or elevated temperature with no increase in VPD (1.1 kPa). VPD had no effect on flower number or fruit set and did not adversely influence the physiological processes measured. Therefore, deleterious effects of high temperature on pepper fruit set does not appear to be temperature induced water stress, but is more likely a direct temperature response. Elevated temperature decreased fruit set but not flower production. Gas exchange measurements suggest failure to set fruit was not due to reduced leaf photosynthesis.

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Anthony V. LeBude*, Barry Goldfarb, and Frank A. Blazich

Producing high quality rooted stem cuttings on a large scale requires precise management of the rooting environment. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of the rooting environment on adventitious root formation of stem cuttings of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). Hardwood stem cuttings of loblolly pine were collected in Feb. 2002 from hedged stock plants and stored at 4 °C until setting in Apr. 2002. One hundred stem cuttings per plot in each of two replications received 45, 61, 73, 102, 147, or 310 mL·m-2 of mist delivered intermittently by a traveling gantry (boom) system. Mist frequency was similar for all treatments and was related inversely to relative humidity (RH) within the polyethylene covered greenhouse. Rooting tubs in each plot were filled with a substrate of fine silica sand, and substrate water potential was held constant using soil tensiometers that activated a subirrigation system. Cutting water potential was measured destructively on two cuttings per plot beginning at 0500 hr every 3 hh until 2300 hr (seven measurements) 7, 14, 21, or 28 days after setting. During rooting, leaf temperature and RH were recorded in each plot to calculate vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Cutting water potential and VPD were strongly related to mist application. Cutting water potential was also related to VPD. Rooting percentage had a linear and quadratic relationship with mean cutting water potential and VPD averaged between 1000 and 1800 HR. Eighty percent rooting occurred within a range of values for VPD. Data suggest that VPD can be used to manage the water deficit of stem cuttings of loblolly pine to increase rooting percentage. These results may be applicable to other species and to other rooting environments.

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M. Brakke and L.H. Allen Jr.

Midday reductions of stomatal conductance and carbon dioxide assimilation rates (Aco2) in Citrus are typically attributed to large leaf-to-air vapor-pressure differences or high atmospheric vapor-pressure deficits (VPD). This study investigated air temperature (Ta) and available soil water (ASW) level as corollary factors of atmospheric VPD that influence midday reduction of net gas exchange in citrus leaves. The influence of elevated atmospheric CO2 under conditions that inhibit net canopy Aco2 was also investigated. Net canopy Aco2 and evapotranspiration rates of Carrizo citrange [Poncirus trifoliata Raf × Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] and Swingle citrumelo (P. trifoliata Raf × C. paradisii Macf.) seedlings grown in outdoor controlled-environment growth chambers were measured under two levels of Ta with concomitant changes in VPD and two levels of atmospheric CO2 concentration, which were changed in steps over time. Cyclical depletion of ASW was allowed to occur at each set of Ta/VPD and CO2 combinations. Highest net canopy Ace, rates at ambient CO2 concentration (330 μmol·mol-1) were obtained at the low Ta/VPD level (29C/2.4 kPa) and ASW >50%. Diurnal canopy CO2 uptake rates decreased at the high Ta/VPD level (37C/3.6 kPa), and midday depression of canopy Aco2 was observed at ASW levels <50%. Net canopy Aco2 decreased at higher levels of ASW under the high Ta/VPD treatment than at the low Ta/VPD treatment. At the elevated CO2 concentration (840 μmol·mol-1) net canopy CO2 uptake rates were double those that occurred at ambient CO2 levels and they did not exhibit midday reduction. Our data indicate that, when soil water is not readily available, citrus seedlings are more sensitive to high levels of Ta and VPD which results in reduction of CO2 uptake. The inhibitory effects of elevated VPD and reduced ASW on citrus net Aco2 were lessened at the elevated atmospheric CO2 level.

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Anthony V. LeBude, Barry Goldfarb, Frank A. Blazich, John Frampton, and Farrell C. Wise

Two experiments were conducted during which juvenile hardwood or softwood stem cuttings of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) were rooted under six mist regimes in a polyethylene-covered greenhouse to investigate the effect of mist level on vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and cutting water potential (Ψcut), and to determine the relationships between these variables and rooting percentage. In addition, net photosynthesis at ambient conditions (Aambient) and stomatal conductance (gs) were measured in stem cuttings during adventitious root formation to determine their relationship to rooting percentage. Hardwood stem cuttings rooted ≥80% when mean daily VPD between 1000 and 1800 hr ranged from 0.60 to 0.85 kPa. Although rooting percentage was related to Ψcut, and Aambient was related to Ψcut, rooting percentage of softwood stem cuttings was not related to Aambient of stem cuttings. Using VPD as a control mechanism for mist application during adventitious rooting of stem cuttings of loblolly pine might increase rooting percentages across a variety of rooting environments.