Drought Physiology

Recent projections of global climate change predict an increase in temperature coupled with a decrease in precipitation for many areas around the world. As plants rely on ground water to maintain leaf temperatures close to a metabolic optimum and CO2 fixation by plants cannot be decoupled from transpirational water loss, many plants and ecosystems will face significant risk. In order to mitigate mortality events, protect ecosystems, and improve crop sustainability, my work uses physiological first principles to better understand the mechanisms driving variation in plant water use and drought tolerance both across and within species. Working towards this goal, I characterize hydraulic pathways for leaves and whole plants and experimentally test models describing thresholds for hydraulic failure.

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