Contrasting water use, stomatal regulation, embolism resistance, and drought responses of two co-occurring mangroves


The physiological mechanisms underlying drought responses are poorly documented in mangroves, which experience nearly constant exposure to saline water. We measured gas exchange, foliar abscisic acid (ABA) concentration, and vulnerability to embolism in a soil water-withholding experiment of two co-occurring mangroves, Avicennia marina (Forsskål) Vierhapper (Verbenaceae) and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (L.) Savigny (Rhizophoraceae). A. marina showed higher photosynthesis and transpiration than B. gymnorrhiza under well-watered conditions. Cavitation resistance differed significantly between species, with 50% cavitation occurring at a water potential (P50) of −8.30 MPa for A. marina and −2.83 MPa for B. gymnorrhiza. This large difference in cavitation resistance was associated with differences in stomatal closure and leaf wilting. The rapid stomatal closure of B. gym- norrhiza was correlated with ABA accumulation as water potential declined. Meanwhile, stomatal closure and declining water potentials in A. marina were not associated with ABA accumulation. The safety margins, calculated as the difference between stomatal closure and embolism spread, differed between these two species (1.59 MPa for A. marina vs. 0.52 MPa for B. gymnorrhiza). Therefore, A. marina adopts a drought tolerance strategy with high cavitation resistance, while B. gymnorrhiza uses a drought avoidance-like strategy with ABA-related sensitive stomatal control to protect its vulnerable xylem.