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Cross-validation on saplings of High-Capacity Tensiometer and Thermocouple Psychrometer for continuous monitoring of xylem water potential

Dainese R., de Carvalho Faria Lima Lopes B., Tedeschi G., Lamarque L.J., Delzon S., Fourcaud T., Tarantino A.. 2021. Journal of Experimental Botany : 35 p..

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erab412

The Pressure Chamber, the most popular method used to measure xylem water potential, is a discontinuous and destructive technique and therefore not suitable for automated monitoring. Continuous non-destructive monitoring could only be achieved until very recently via the Thermocouple Psychrometer (TP). We here present the High-Capacity Tensiometer (HCT) as alternative method for continuous non-destructive monitoring. This provided us with a unique chance to cross-validate the two instruments by installing them simultaneously on the same sapling stem. The HCT and the TP showed excellent agreement for xylem water potential < -0.5 MPa. Response to day/night cycles and watering was remarkably in phase, indicating excellent response time of both instruments despite substantially different working principles. For xylem water potential > -0.5 MPa, the discrepancies sometimes observed between the HCT and TP were mainly attributed to the kaolin paste used to establish contact between the xylem and the HCT, which becomes hydraulically poorly conductive in this range of water potential once dried beyond its air-entry value and subsequently re-wetted. Notwithstanding this limitation, which can be overcome by selecting a clay paste with higher air-entry value, the HCT has been shown to represent a valid alternative to the TP.

Mots-clés : physiologie végétale; xylème; potentiel xylème eau; potentiel hydrique; psychromètre; tensiomètre

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