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Optimization models of stomatal conductance (gs ) attempt to explain observed stomatal behaviour in terms of cost--benefit tradeoffs. While the benefit of stomatal opening through increased CO2 uptake is clear, currently the nature of the associated cost(s) remains unclear. We explored the hypothesis that gs maximizes leaf photosynthesis, where the cost of stomatal opening arises from nonstomatal reductions in photosynthesis induced by leaf water stress. We analytically solved two cases, CAP and MES, in which reduced leaf water potential leads to reductions in carboxylation capacity (CAP) and mesophyll conductance (gm ) (MES). Both CAP and MES predict the same one-parameter relationship between the intercellular : atmospheric CO2 concentration ratio (ci /ca ) and vapour pressure deficit (VPD, D), viz. ci /ca ≈ ξ/(ξ + √D), as that obtained from previous optimization models, with the novel feature that the parameter ξ is determined unambiguously as a function of a small number of photosynthetic and hydraulic variables. These include soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance, implying a stomatal closure response to drought. MES also predicts that gs /gm is closely related to ci /ca and is similarly conservative. These results are consistent with observations, give rise to new testable predictions, and offer new insights into the covariation of stomatal, mesophyll and hydraulic conductances.
PMID: 29086921 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]