About this Research Topic
About 500 My ago, the major challenge faced by the first terrestrial plant was the acquisition of water resources. Nowadays, water availability is still one of the main environmental factors shaping the evolution of terrestrial plants. Hence, the study of the ability of different plant species to extract water from the soil and deliver it to the canopy is crucial to understand terrestrial ecosystems. However, the assessment of root distribution and activity relies mainly on destructive and labor-intensive methods, which are not the most suitable to understand temporal dynamics of water uptake. On the other hand, to establish the link between below-ground and above-ground processes requires a precise estimation of whole-plant transpiration, canopy-atmosphere exchange and water storage patterns. Assessing these processes at the plant level is still challenging due to the trade-off between the implicit uncertainty of up-scaling approaches and the complexity of in vivo direct measurements. With this Research Topic, we aim to integrate the information currently available from the multiple disciplines that so far have addressed this topic, creating a discussion forum among the existing perspectives and approaches.
In this Research Topic, we will gather new conceptual approaches and examples of application of the most recent advances in the use of non-invasive methods to explore plant water uptake, whole-plant transpiration, plant water storage and root-soil interaction, covering different temporal and spatial scales (from roots to the canopy, from hourly variations to annual patterns). This may include, among others:
- The use of stable isotopes and other hydrological tracers to track water movement, from the soil to the transpired water, including the assessment of alternative water sources, e.g. foliar uptake, internal water storage or mineral-bound water
- Geophysical tools applied to identify how plant water uptake and redistribution modifies soil water dynamics within the rhizosphere, and/or the assessment of whole-plant root development and distribution
- Modeling approaches to reconstruct root growth and plant water uptake, transport and storage dynamics
- Imaging techniques, such us X-ray tomography or neutron radiography, applied to visualize fine-scale changes in root structure and water movement along the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum
Keywords: Water Uptake, Water Transport, Hydrological Tracers, Geophysical Prospection, Live Imaging
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