4. Regulation of Transpiration

Regulation of Transpiration

It is the responsibility of the stomata to regulate transpiration and gas exchange via the actions of the guard cells. The pores of the stomata are closed when turgor pressure in the guard cells is low, and they are open when turgor pressure is high. Changes occur when light intensity, carbon dioxide concentration or water concentration change. The guard cells of the stomata use energy to take up potassium ions from adjacent epidermal cells. The uptake opens the stomata because water potential in the stomata drops and water moves into the guard cells and increases turgor pressure. When the potassium ions are released, the water then leaves the cells as the water potential shifts again. There is evidence that stomata will close with water stresses but there also seems to be some indication that hormones are involved cause a loss of potassium ions from the guard cells and thus a pore closure.

Most plants keep their stomata open during the day and close them at night. However, there are plants that do the opposite and open their stomata during the night when overall water stress is lower. These plants have a specialized form of photosynthesis called CAM photosynthesis since the standard source of carbon dioxide is shut off as the stomata are closed during daylight hours. There are desert plants that are able to store carbon dioxide in their vacuoles in the form of organic acids that are converted back into carbon dioxide during the daytime for standard photosynthetic processes. As mentioned earlier, there are also adaptations such as sunken stomata which reduce the loss of water. Submerged or partially submerged plants generally do not have stomata on the underwater portions of their leaves.

High humidity will reduce transpiration rates while low humidity accelerates the process. There is a direct correlation between temperature and water movement out of the leaf. At high temperatures, the rate of transpiration increases while the opposite occurs at lower temperatures.