Water-transport pathways through the leaf are complex and include several checkpoints. Some of these checkpoints exhibit dynamic behavior that may be regulated by aquaporins (AQPs). To date, neither the relative weight of the different water pathways nor their molecular mechanisms are well understood. Here, we have collected evidence to support a putative composite model of water pathways in the leaf and the distribution of water across those pathways. We describe how water moves along a single transcellular path through the parenchyma and continues toward the mesophyll and stomata along transcellular, symplastic and apoplastic paths. We present evidence that points to a role for AQPs in regulating the relative weight of each path in the overall leaf water-transport system and the movement of water between these paths as a result of the integration of multiple signals, including transpiration demand, water potential and turgor. We also present a new theory, the hydraulic fuse theory, to explain effects of the leaf turgor-loss-point on water paths alternation and the subsequent reduction in leaf hydraulic conductivity. An improved understating of leaf water-balance management may lead to the development of crops that use water more efficiently, and responds better to environmental changes.
- Hydraulic conductance
- Membrane osmotic permeability (P)
- Transcellular water movement