Salta al contenuto principale
Passa alla visualizzazione normale.


Water Potential Gradients between Old and Developing Leaves in Lithops (Aizoaceae).


Lithops plants consist of a pair of opposite succulent leaves inserted on a short stem. The apical meristem produces a new pair of leaves within the old one every growing season, recycling water from the old leaves. Since there are no data on water relations between the two pairs of leaves, we measured leaf water potential at different stages of development with a pressure chamber. Osmotic potential of cell sap was measured with a cryoscopic osmometer and turgor pressure was calculated indirectly. Leaf water potentials were never very low even though plants were not irrigated. In old leaves water potential ranged between -0.5 and -0.28 MPa. In young leaves water potential increased with size from -1.05 to -0.5 MPa and was always lower than in the corresponding old leaves. The water potential gradient between old and new leaves was steeper in the early stages of development (0.6 MPa) and gradually decreased (0.15 MPa) when young leaves had almost completed their expansion. Our data show that in Lithops water movement from old to young leaves occurs according to a water potential gradient. The maintenance of this gradient may be ascribed to differences in turgor pressure, due to the more elastic and plastic walls of cells of young leaves. The possibility to perform a complete life cycle without external water supply is an extreme adaptation to the arid environment where Lithops grows.