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  1. McCulloh, Kate (Ed.)
    There is currently a need for inexpensive, continuous, non-destructive water potential measurements at high temporal resolution (<1 min). We describe here the development and testing of an entirely open-source dendrometer that, when combined with periodic Scholander pressure chamber measurements, provides sub-minute resolution estimates of water potential when placed on tissues exhibiting little or no secondary growth (petioles, monocotyledon stems). The dendrometer can also be used to measure radial growth of stems and branches when placed on dicotyledon and gymnosperm species. The dendrometer can be interfaced directly with a computer in real time in the lab or greenhouse, or connected to a datalogger for long periods of use in the field on batteries. We tested this device on a herbaceous dicotyledon (Helianthus annuus) (petioles and stems) and a monocotyledon (Zea mays) species (stems) for 1 week during dehydration and re-watering treatments under laboratory conditions. We also demonstrated the ability of the device to record branch and trunk diameter variation of a woody dicotyledon (Rhus typhina) in the field. Under laboratory conditions, we compared our device (hereafter ‘contact’ dendrometer) with modified versions of another open-source dendrometer (the ‘optical’ dendrometer). Overall, contact and optical dendrometers were well aligned with one another, with Pearson correlation coefficients ranging from 0.77 to 0.97. Both dendrometer devices were well aligned with direct measurements of xylem water potential, with calibration curves exhibiting significant non-linearity, especially at water potentials near the point of incipient plasmolysis, with pseudo R2 values (Efron) ranging from 0.89 to 0.99. Overall, both dendrometers were comparable and provided sufficient resolution to detect subtle differences in stem water potential (ca. 50 kPa) resulting from light-induced changes in transpiration, vapour pressure deficit and drying/wetting soils. All hardware designs, alternative configurations, software and build instructions for the contact dendrometers are provided. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2025
  2. Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes adapted to native habitats with different daylengths, temperatures, and precipitation were grown experimentally under seven combinations of light intensity and leaf temperature to assess their acclimatory phenotypic plasticity in foliar structure and function. There were no differences among ecotypes when plants developed under moderate conditions of 400 µmol photons m−2 s−1 and 25 °C. However, in response to more extreme light or temperature regimes, ecotypes that evolved in habitats with pronounced differences in either the magnitude of changes in daylength or temperature or in precipitation level exhibited pronounced adjustments in photosynthesis and transpiration, as well as anatomical traits supporting these functions. Specifically, when grown under extremes of light intensity (100 versus 1000 µmol photons m−2 s−1) or temperature (8 °C versus 35 °C), ecotypes from sites with the greatest range of daylengths and temperature over the growing season exhibited the greatest differences in functional and structural features related to photosynthesis (light- and CO2-saturated capacity of oxygen evolution, leaf dry mass per area or thickness, phloem cells per minor vein, and water-use efficiency of CO2 uptake). On the other hand, the ecotype from the habitat with the lowest precipitation showed the greatest plasticity in features related to water transport and loss (vein density, ratio of water to sugar conduits in foliar minor veins, and transpiration rate). Despite these differences, common structure–function relationships existed across all ecotypes and growth conditions, with significant positive, linear correlations (i) between photosynthetic capacity (ranging from 10 to 110 µmol O2 m−2 s−1) and leaf dry mass per area (from 10 to 75 g m−2), leaf thickness (from 170 to 500 µm), and carbohydrate-export infrastructure (from 6 to 14 sieve elements per minor vein, from 2.5 to 8 µm2 cross-sectional area per sieve element, and from 16 to 82 µm2 cross-sectional area of sieve elements per minor vein); (ii) between transpiration rate (from 1 to 17 mmol H2O m−2 s−1) and water-transport infrastructure (from 3.5 to 8 tracheary elements per minor vein, from 13.5 to 28 µm2 cross-sectional area per tracheary element, and from 55 to 200 µm2 cross-sectional area of tracheary elements per minor vein); (iii) between the ratio of transpirational water loss to CO2 fixation (from 0.2 to 0.7 mol H2O to mmol−1 CO2) and the ratio of water to sugar conduits in minor veins (from 0.4 to 1.1 tracheary to sieve elements, from 4 to 6 µm2 cross-sectional area of tracheary to sieve elements, and from 2 to 6 µm2 cross-sectional area of tracheary elements to sieve elements per minor vein); (iv) between sugar conduits and sugar-loading cells; and (v) between water conducting and sugar conducting cells. Additionally, the proportion of water conduits to sugar conduits was greater for all ecotypes grown experimentally under warm-to-hot versus cold temperature. Thus, developmental acclimation to the growth environment included ecotype-dependent foliar structural and functional adjustments resulting in multiple common structural and functional relationships. 
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  3. Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can impact plant photosynthesis and productivity and threaten food security, especially when combined with additional environmental stressors. This study addresses the effects of elevated CO2 in combination with low nutrient supply on Lemna minor (common duckweed). We quantified plant growth rate and nutritional quality (protein content) and evaluated whether any adverse effects of elevated CO2, low nutrients, or the combination of the two could be mitigated by plant-microbe interaction. Plants were grown under controlled conditions and were either uninoculated or inoculated with microorganisms from a local pond that supported L. minor populations. Under low nutrients in combination with high CO2, growth (plant area expansion rate) decreased and biomass accumulation increased, albeit with lower nutritional quality (lower percentage of protein per plant biomass). Inoculation with plant-associated microorganisms restored area expansion rate and further stimulated biomass accumulation while supporting a high protein-to-biomass ratio and, thus, a high nutritional quality. These findings indicate that plant-microbe interaction can support a higher nutritional quality of plant biomass under elevated atmospheric CO2 levels, an important finding for both human and non-human consumers during a time of rapid environmental change. 
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  4. Development of a nutritious, sustainable food source is essential to address worldwide deficiencies in human micronutrients. Aquatic floating plants (e.g., species in the family Lemnaceae, duckweeds) are uniquely suited for area-efficient productivity with exceptionally high rates of growth and nutritional quality. Here, we provide an overview of the role of dietary micronutrients (with a focus on carotenoids) in human health and the promise of Lemnaceae as sustainable crops. We examine the effect of growth light environment on plant biomass production and levels of the carotenoids zeaxanthin, lutein, and pro-vitamin A (β-carotene), as well as the antioxidant vitamin E (α-tocopherol), and protein. Data on each of these nutrients are reported on a plant dry biomass basis (as relevant for nutrition) as well as relative to the required input of light energy (as relevant to resource-use efficiency). 
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  5. Improvement of crop climate resilience will require an understanding of whole-plant adaptation to specific local environments. This review places features of plant form and function related to photosynthetic productivity, as well as associated gene-expression patterns, into the context of the adaptation of Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes to local environments with different climates in Sweden and Italy. The growth of plants under common cool conditions resulted in a proportionally greater emphasis on the maintenance of photosynthetic activity in the Swedish ecotype. This is compared to a greater emphasis on downregulation of light-harvesting antenna size and upregulation of a host of antioxidant enzymes in the Italian ecotype under these conditions. This differential response is discussed in the context of the climatic patterns of the ecotypes’ native habitats with substantial opportunity for photosynthetic productivity under mild temperatures in Italy but not in Sweden. The Swedish ecotype’s response is likened to pushing forward at full speed with productivity under low temperature versus the Italian ecotype’s response of staying safe from harm (maintaining redox homeostasis) while letting productivity decline when temperatures are transiently cold. It is concluded that either strategy can offer directions for the development of climate-resilient crops for specific locations of cultivation. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Climate change impacts environmental conditions that affect photosynthesis. This review examines the effect of combinations of elevated atmospheric CO2, long photoperiods, and/or unfavorable nitrogen supply. Under moderate stress, perturbed plant source–sink ratio and redox state can be rebalanced but may result in reduced foliar protein content in C3 plants and a higher carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of plant biomass. More severe environmental conditions can trigger pronounced photosynthetic downregulation and impair growth. We comprehensively evaluate available evidence that microbial partners may be able to support plant productivity under challenging environmental conditions by providing (1) nutrients, (2) an additional carbohydrate sink, and (3) regulators of plant metabolism, especially plant redox state. In evaluating the latter mechanism, we note parallels to metabolic control in photosymbioses and microbial regulation of human redox biology. 
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  8. This review focuses on recently characterized traits of the aquatic floating plant Lemna with an emphasis on its capacity to combine rapid growth with the accumulation of high levels of the essential human micronutrient zeaxanthin due to an unusual pigment composition not seen in other fast-growing plants. In addition, Lemna’s response to elevated CO2 was evaluated in the context of the source–sink balance between plant sugar production and consumption. These and other traits of Lemnaceae are compared with those of other floating aquatic plants as well as terrestrial plants adapted to different environments. It was concluded that the unique features of aquatic plants reflect adaptations to the freshwater environment, including rapid growth, high productivity, and exceptionally strong accumulation of high-quality vegetative storage protein and human antioxidant micronutrients. It was further concluded that the insensitivity of growth rate to environmental conditions and plant source–sink imbalance may allow duckweeds to take advantage of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels via particularly strong stimulation of biomass production and only minor declines in the growth of new tissue. It is proposed that declines in nutritional quality under elevated CO2 (due to regulatory adjustments in photosynthetic metabolism) may be mitigated by plant–microbe interaction, for which duckweeds have a high propensity. 
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