Leaf temperature kinetics were studied as a function of the rate of change of ambient temperature (Vt), light conditions, plant age, and genotypic and species diversity for Zea mays, Cucumis sativus, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., Phaseolus vulgaris, Beta vulgaris, Cucurbita pepo, and Raphanus sativus. Ambient temperature was varied from 26 to 60 oC at rates Vt from 0.5 to 8 oC / min. Leaf-air temperature differences (LATD) were registered with differential copper-constantan thermocouples. As the ambient temperature rose LATD increased because stomata had been closed in darkness. Still in the darkness, at some critical ambient temperature stomata opened and the leaf temperature reduced dramatically as result of stomatal transpiration. The critical temperature is strongly dependent upon Vt . Simple equations for the calculation of a threshold of plant temperature sensitivity and of a time constant for stomatal signal transduction have been obtained. These parameters show a high correlation with plant heat tolerance both in genotypic and species aspects. This is consistent with the idea that temporal organisation of plant regulatory systems plays a leading role in evolution and in adaptation to extreme environmental conditions. Both the characteristics measured tend to change with plant age. It is concluded that the measurement of leaf temperature kinetics is a very convenient procedure for estimating plant adaptive ability to high temperatures.
Return to Biophysics Home page or to Publications list.