[Chin-Min Ho] Stomatal morphology and water use efficiency

Stomata are a pivotal adaptation of land plants and control gas exchange. While most plants present solitary stomata, some plant species experiencing chronic water deficiency display clustered stomata on their epidermis; for instance, limestone-grown begonias. In order to understand whether clustered stomata increase the survival advantage of terrestrial plants in arid environments, assistant research fellow Chin-Min Ho from IPMB and associate research fellow Kuo-Fang Chung from the biodiversity research center used two Asian begonias, Begonia formosana (single stomata) and B. hernandioides (clustered stomata), to explore the water use capacity of plants and the developmental mechanism of clustered stomata. B. hernandioides showed higher water use efficiency under high light intensity, smaller stomata, and faster pore opening than B. formosana. The short distance between stomata in a cluster may facilitate cell-to-cell interactions to achieve synchronicity in stomatal movement.  In addition, Begonia TMMs function similarly to Arabidopsis TMM to inhibit stomatal formation, although complementation by TMM from the clustered species was only partial. Stomatal clustering in begonias may represent a developmental strategy to build small and closer stomata to achieve fast responses to light which provides tight support between stomatal development and environmental adaption.

The first author of this paper is Dr. Meng-Ying Tsai.