Transpiration, CO2 assimilation, WUE, and stomatal aperture in leaves of Viscum album (L.): Effect of abscisic acid (ABA) in the xylem sap of its host (Populus x euamericana).

Research paper by Peter P Escher, Andreas D AD Peuke, Peter P Bannister, Siegfried S Fink, Wolfram W Hartung, Fan F Jiang, Heinz H Rennenberg

Indexed on: 29 Nov '07Published on: 29 Nov '07Published in: Plant Physiology and Biochemistry


Leaves of the mistletoe Viscum album (L.) show a high rate of transpiration, even when the host is under severe drought stress. The hypothesis that a strong control of ABA influx from the xylem sap of the host into the mistletoe prevents stomatal closure in mistletoe leaves was tested under the following conditions: sections of poplar twigs carrying a mistletoe were perfused with artificial xylem sap that contained different ABA concentrations and both transpiration and ABA levels were analysed in mistletoe leaves. Despite variation by a factor of 10(4), the ABA content of the host xylem did not affect ABA levels, leaf transpiration, CO(2) assimilation, WUE, or the degree of stomatal aperture in mistletoe leaves. These observations support the hypothesis of a strong control of ABA influx from the host of the xylem into the mistletoe, although degradation of ABA before it enters the mistletoe leaves cannot be excluded. This mechanism may ensure a water and nutritional status favourable for the mistletoe, even if the water status of the host is impaired. Despite the lack of short-term sensitivity of ABA levels in mistletoe leaves to even strong changes of ABA levels in the xylem sap of the host, ABA levels in mistletoe leaves were relatively high compared to ABA levels in the leaves of several tree species including poplar. Since significant transpiration of the mistletoe leaves was observed despite high ABA levels, a diminished sensitivity of the stomata of mistletoe leaves to ABA has to be concluded. The stomatal density of adaxial Viscum leaves of 89+/-23 stomata per mm is lower than those reported in a study performed at the end of the 19th century.