Cross-validation of the high-capacity tensiometer and thermocouple psychrometer for continuous monitoring of xylem water potential in saplings

Roberta Dainese, Bruna de C.F.L. Lopes, Giuseppe Tedeschi, Laurent J. Lamarque, Sylvain Delzon, Thierry Fourcaud, Alessandro Tarantino

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Abstract

The pressure chamber, the most popular method used to measure xylem water potential, is a discontinuous and destructive technique and is therefore not suitable for automated monitoring. Continuous non-destructive monitoring
could until very recently be achieved only by use of the thermocouple psychrometer (TP). Here we present the high-capacity tensiometer (HCT) as an alternative method for continuous non-destructive monitoring. This provided us with a unique chance to cross-validate the two instruments by installing them simultaneously on the same sapling stem. The HCT and the TP showed excellent agreement for xylem water potential less than –0.5 MPa. Response to day/night cycles and watering was remarkably in phase, indicating excellent response time of both instruments despite substantially different working principles. For xylem water potential greater than –0.5 MPa, the discrepancies sometimes observed between the HCT and TP were mainly attributed to the kaolin paste used to establish contact between the xylem and the HCT, which becomes hydraulically poorly conductive in this range of water potential once dried beyond its air-entry value and subsequently re-wetted. Notwithstanding this limitation, which can be overcome by selecting a clay paste with higher air-entry value, the HCT has been shown to represent a valid alternative to the TP.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbererab412
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Early online date10 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • high-capacity tensiometer
  • pressure chamber
  • thermocouple psychrometer
  • xylem water potential
  • water tension
  • water status monitoring

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