Leaf hydraulic vulnerability protects stem functionality under drought stress in Salvia officinalis

Tadeja Savi* (Corresponding Author), Maria Marin, Jessica Luglio, Francesco Petruzzellis, Stefan Mayr, Andrea Nardini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Functional coordination between leaf and stem hydraulics has been proposed as a key trait of drought-resistant plants. A balanced water transport efficiency and safety of different plant organs might be of particular importance for plant survival in the Mediterranean climate. We monitored seasonal changes of leaf and stem water relations of Salvia officinalis L. in order to highlight strategies adopted by this species to survive in harsh environmental conditions. During summer drought, the water potential dropped below the turgor loss point thus reducing water loss by transpiration, whereas the photosynthetic efficiency remained relatively high. Leaves lost their water transport efficiency earlier than stems, although in both plant organs P50 (water potential inducing 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity) indicated surprisingly high vulnerability when compared with other drought-tolerant species. The fast recovery of leaf turgor upon restoration of soil water availability suggests that the reduction of leaf hydraulic conductance is not only a consequence of vein embolism, but cell shrinkage and consequent increase of resistance in the extra-xylem pathway may play an important role. We conclude that the drought tolerance of S. officinalis arises at least partly as a consequence of vulnerability segmentation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2016


  • aridity
  • common sage
  • drought resistance
  • vulnerability curves
  • water relations
  • xylem embolism


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