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Diurnal regulation of leaf water status in high- and low-mannitol olive cultivars


The role of mannitol and malic acid in the regulation of diurnal leaf water relations was investigated in ‘Biancolilla’ (high-mannitol) and ‘Cerasuola’ (low-mannitol) olive trees. Photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), vapor pressure deficit (VPD), stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (T), relative water content (RWC), mannitol and malic acid were measured in ‘Biancolilla’ and ‘Cerasuola’ leaves during a dry and hot day of summer in Sicily. In general, leaves of ‘Biancolilla’ trees exhibited greater mannitol content, higher gs and T, but lower RWC than leaves of ‘Cerasuola’ trees. Differences in gs and T between the two cultivars were evident mainly in mid to late morning. ‘Biancolilla’ leaves accumulated mannitol at midday and again late in the evening. Stomatal responses to VPD were RWC dependent, and limited somewhat T, only in ‘Biancolilla’. Mannitol was directly related to RWC, and may play an osmotic role, in ‘Biancolilla’ leaves, whereas ‘Cerasuola’ leaves remained well hydrated by just transpiring less and regardless of mannitol. A day-time accumulation and night-time utilization of mannitol in ‘Biancolilla’ leaves is proposed as an efficient mechanism to regulate water status and growth.