Trees must simultaneously balance their CO2 uptake rate via stomata, photosynthesis, the transport rate of sugars and rate of sugar utilization in sinks while maintaining a favourable water and carbon balance. We demonstrate using a numerical model that it is possible to understand stomatal functioning from the viewpoint of maximizing the simultaneous photosynthetic production, phloem transport and sink sugar utilization rate under the limitation that the transpiration-driven hydrostatic pressure gradient sets for those processes. A key feature in our model is that non-stomatal limitations to photosynthesis increase with decreasing leaf water potential and/or increasing leaf sugar concentration and are thus coupled to stomatal conductance. Maximizing the photosynthetic production rate using a numerical steady-state model leads to stomatal behaviour that is able to reproduce the well-known trends of stomatal behaviour in response to, e.g., light, vapour concentration difference, ambient CO2 concentration, soil water status, sink strength and xylem and phloem hydraulic conductance. We show that our results for stomatal behaviour are very similar to the solutions given by the earlier models of stomatal conductance derived solely from gas exchange considerations. Our modelling results also demonstrate how the 'marginal cost of water' in the unified stomatal conductance model and the optimal stomatal model could be related to plant structural and physiological traits, most importantly, the soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance and soil moisture.
PMID: 28338800 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]