Optimizing stomatal traits for future climates

Stomatal traits determine grapevine water use, carbon supply, and water stress, which directly impact yield and berry chemistry. Breeding for stomatal traits has the strong potential to improve grapevine performance under future, drier conditions, but the trait values that breeders should target are unknown. We used a functional-structural plant model developed for grapevine (HydroShoot) to determine how stomatal traits impact canopy gas exchange, water potential, and temperature under historical and future conditions in high-quality and hot-climate California wine regions (Napa and the Central Valley). Historical climate (1990-2010) was collected from weather stations and future climate (2079-99) was projected from 4 representative climate models for California, assuming medium- and high-emissions (RCP 4.5 and 8.5). Five trait parameterizations, representing mean and extreme values for the maximum stomatal conductance (gmax) and leaf water potential threshold for stomatal closure (Ψsc), were defined from meta-analyses. Compared to mean trait values, the water-spending extremes (highest gmax or most negative Ysc) had negligible benefits for carbon gain and canopy cooling, but exacerbated vine water use and stress, for both sites and climate scenarios. These traits increased cumulative transpiration by 8 – 17%, changed cumulative carbon gain by -4 – 3%, and reduced minimum water potentials by 10 – 18%. Conversely, the water-saving extremes (lowest gmax or least negative Ψsc) strongly reduced water use and stress, but potentially compromised the carbon supply for ripening. Under RCP 8.5 conditions, these traits reduced transpiration by 22 – 35% and carbon gain by 9 – 16% and increased minimum water potentials by 20 – 28%, compared to mean values. Overall, selecting for more water-saving stomatal traits could improve water-use efficiency and avoid the detrimental effects of highly negative canopy water potentials on yield and quality, but more work is needed to evaluate whether these benefits outweigh the consequences of minor declines in carbon gain for fruit production.

Authors: Megan Bartlett1 and Rami Albasha2,3

1Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, Davis, USA
2ITK society, Clapiers, France
3INRAE, UMR759 LEPSE, Montpellier, France

Email: mkbartlett@ucdavis.edu 

Keywords: stomata, climate change, water-use efficiency, viticulture, physiology

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