Scientists discovered that certain species of trees are able to retain stored water and limit the growth rate of their roots in order to survive a drought.
A three-month study of various tropical saplings showed that species adapt to avoid dehydration by developing traits that favor water storage, which allowed them to retain a water reservoir during a drought. In addition, the trees limit their root surface area, suggesting that root abscission is a key component in preventing water loss from roots to soil during severe drought.
The study offers insights into how these trees respond to droughts. It highlights mechanisms and processes that control tree survival, which influences carbon dioxide levels.
The research team tested the ability of different species of tropical saplings to avoid dehydration during severe droughts by subjecting potted saplings to three months without water, and found that the species avoided dehydration through developing certain traits that favored water storage, such as low tissue density, low leaf-mass fraction, or isolating their stems from soil. Such traits provided a water reservoir that buffered the drought conditions.
Interestingly, the saplings maintained most of the water they stored during the simulated drought. Moreover, their reduced root area diminished further during the drought. The researchers believe this root growth may slow water loss into the soil. The findings suggest that saplings’ ability to avoid dehydration during extreme drought depends on retaining stored water.
Some trees thrive and are even built for dry and hot climates. The following are some fruit-bearing trees that grow well in harsh weather conditions. (Related: Trees in the city can handle the heat and the bugs – if they have enough water.)
Some grapes grow well in hot, dry gardens as well, including these varieties: Thompson Seedless, Golden Muscat and the Alden. Do take note that Golden Muscat needs some shade as its leaves are susceptible to sunburn. Grape plants require pruning and constant soil moisture to produce fruit, but they are generally drought-tolerant if bearing fruit is not your goal.
Visit Ecology.news to learn more about how trees adapt to their ever-changing environment.