Maggio and Bressan - History of plant-water relations: from physics to biology

Albino Maggio1* e Ray A. Bressan2
1 Dipartimento di Ingegneria Agraria ed Agronomia del Territorio, Università di Napoli “Federico II”, via Università 100, 80055 Portici (NA)
2 Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, 625 Agriculture Mall Dr., West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

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Key words: plant water relations, osmosis, water potential, saline stress, water stress.

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Abstract

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In this essay we presented an historical overview of plant water relation studies. We first analyzed how early observations on seeds imbibition and water uptake by microcapillarity were developed in a systematic analysis of water absorption and movement within the plant. Subsequently, we explained how the concept of osmosis became critical in analyzing water movement in plant tissues. We finally presented the formalization of the water potential concept, on which most physiological studies during the 60s’ and 80s’ were developed. The second part of this review is focussed on the impact of biotechnologies and how they have contributed to advancing our current understanding of plant water relations. Further advancement in this field is expected to occur as a result of integration of disciplines, which may turn out to be critical to understand the physiology of plant water relations in an agricultural context and to highlight novel applications of the acquired knowledge.

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