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Measuring leaf relative water content (RWC) is a reliable and simple way to assess the water status of a leaf without any need for special equipment. Similar to leaf water potential, leaf RWC gives a strong indication of the plant’s response to different environmental conditions; yet RWC has been shown to be a more stable parameter than leaf water potential (Sade et al., 2009; Sade et al., 2012). Although measuring RWC is destructive to the leaf, with proper planning, it need not affect the plant’s behavior. This note will focus on three different model plants which are representative of plants with various leaf shapes (e.g., Arabidopsis, tomato and barley). The technique for measuring RWC is the same for all three of these species (as well as for plants with many other types of leaves).

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Measuring Arabidopsis, Tomato and Barley Leaf Relative Water Content (RWC)

Plant Science > Plant physiology > Abiotic stress
Authors: Nir Sade
Nir SadeAffiliation: Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel
Bio-protocol author page: a2143
Eyal Galkin
Eyal GalkinAffiliation: Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel
Bio-protocol author page: a2144
 and Menachem Moshelion
Menachem MoshelionAffiliation: Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel
For correspondence: menachem.moshelion@mail.huji.ac.il
Bio-protocol author page: a2145
Vol 5, Iss 8, 4/20/2015, 2008 views, 0 Q&A, How to cite
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21769/BioProtoc.1451

[Abstract] Measuring leaf relative water content (RWC) is a reliable and simple way to assess the water status of a leaf without any need for special equipment. Similar to leaf water potential, leaf RWC gives a strong indication of the plant’s response to different environmental conditions; yet RWC has been shown to be a more stable parameter than leaf water potential (Sade et al., 2009; Sade et al., 2012). Although measuring RWC is destructive to the leaf, with proper planning, it need not affect the plant’s behavior. This note will focus on three different model plants which are representative of plants with various leaf shapes (e.g., Arabidopsis, tomato and barley). The technique for measuring RWC is the same for all three of these species (as well as for plants with many other types of leaves).

Keywords: Relative water content, Leaf water content, Drought stress, Salt stress

Materials and Reagents

  1. 4-week-old Arabidopsis plants grown under short-day conditions (8/16 L/D; 22/22 °C)
  2. 4-week-old tomato plants grown under moderate conditions (10/14 L/D; 25/20 °C)
  3. 4-week-old barley plants grown under short-day conditions (8/16 L/D; 16/10 °C)

Equipment

  1. Zipper-locked plastic bag (8 x 12 cm) for each sample
  2. Paper bag (8 x 12 cm) for each sample
  3. Sharp scissors
  4. Scalpel
  5. Paper towels
  6. Analytical balance with 0.1 mg readability
  7. 2-3 ml of 5 mM CaCl2 in DDW water for each sample
  8. Marker pen
  9. Plastic box that can be sealed tightly

Software

  1. Microsoft Excel

Procedure

  1. Grow the plants.
  2. Mark and weigh each plastic bag (BW) prior to the other measurements.
  3. Typically, leaves are measured before dawn and/or at midday (Matin et al., 1989). At the selected hour, select a fully expanded and mature leaf.
  4. For Arabidopsis and tomato, cut the leaf with a scalpel leaving a 1-cm-long petiole.
  5. For barley (or any other leaf without a petiole; e.g., rice, wheat), use scissors to cut a 6- to 10-cm-long piece of leaf blade. It is important to harvest leaf pieces of the same size and from the same area (typically 6-10 cm starting from the leaf tip). It is recommended to use at least 4-5 biological replications especially when measuring plants under different treatments (e.g. drought stress).
  6. Place the harvested leaf in a plastic bag immediately after cutting and close the bag (Figure 1).


    Figure 1. Representative leaves in the Zipper-locked plastic bag (8 x 12 cm). A. Arabidopsis mature rosette leaf; B. Tomato mature fully expanded leaflet; C. Barley 6- to 10-cm-long leaf blade end. Bottom and right part of the pic show a roller for estimation of plastic bag size.

  7. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed so that no vapor can escape. Put the bag in the closed (dark) box.
  8. Weigh each bag with the fresh leaf inside to determine the total fresh weight (TFW).
  9. Open the bag and gently make sure that the petiole is facing down. Insert 2-3 ml of 5 mM CaCl2 into the bag and make sure that only the leaf petiole is immersed in the solution (Figure 2). Close the bag and put the sample back in the box at room temperature.
  10. After 8 h, take the leaf out of the bag and put it between two paper towels to absorb excess water.
  11. Weigh the turgid leaf to determine the turgid weight (TW).
  12. Insert each sample into a paper bag and dry in a 60 °C dry oven for 3-4 days.
  13. Weigh the dried samples to determine the dry weight (DW).
  14. Calculate the relative water content of the leaf:

Notes

  1. It is very important to use high-quality zipper-locked bags, to prevent humidity and liquids from leaking out of the bag.
  2. Work quickly, but gently to maintain reliable results.
  3. Maintain the same order of sampling to ensure that all samples are measured using the same protocol.
  4. There are different zipper-locked bags that fit leaves of different sizes. Choose bags of a size appropriate for the species with which you are working.
  5. Make sure that only the petiole is immersed in the solution (or the cut part of the leaf in the case of grass species; Figure 2).


    Figure 2. Leaves in the Zipper-locked plastic bag after insertion of 2-3 ml of 5 mM CaCl2 into the bag. A. Arabidopsis mature rosette leaf; B. Tomato mature fully expanded leaflet; C. Barley 6- to 10-cm-long piece of leaf blade.
    Note the solution in the bottom part of the plastic bag.


  6. This protocol was used for measurements of 4 weeks old Tomato, Arabidopsis and Barley leaves under well irrigated conditions and short day photoperiod as stated in the Materials and Reagents section. However, it is suitable for different physiological age (as long as the leaves are fully expanded), different plants (as long as the morphological shape of the leaves is similar to those appear in this protocol), different photoperiod (both long and short day) and different irrigation regime (drought and salt).

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1131/12) and the German-Israeli Project Cooperation (grant nos. FE 552/12–1 to A.R.F. and OR309/1-1.
This Protocol was adapted from Sade et al. (2014).

References

  1. Matin, M., Brown, J. H. and Ferguson, H. (1989). Leaf water potential, relative water content, and diffusive resistance as screening techniques for drought resistance in barley. Agron J 81(1): 100-105.
  2. Sade, N., Gebremedhin, A. and Moshelion, M. (2012). Risk-taking plants: anisohydric behavior as a stress-resistance trait. Plant Signal Behav 7(7): 767-770.
  3. Sade, D., Sade, N., Shriki, O., Lerner, S., Gebremedhin, A., Karavani, A., Brotman, Y., Osorio, S., Fernie, A. R., Willmitzer, L., Czosnek, H. and Moshelion, M. (2014). Water balance, hormone homeostasis, and sugar signaling are all involved in Tomato resistance to Tomato yellow leaf curl virus. Plant Physiol 165(4): 1684-1697.
  4. Sade, N., Vinocur, B. J., Diber, A., Shatil, A., Ronen, G., Nissan, H., Wallach, R., Karchi, H. and Moshelion, M. (2009). Improving plant stress tolerance and yield production: is the tonoplast aquaporin SlTIP2;2 a key to isohydric to anisohydric conversion? New Phytol 181(3): 651-661.


How to cite this protocol: Sade, N., Galkin, E. and Moshelion, M. (2015). Measuring Arabidopsis, Tomato and Barley Leaf Relative Water Content (RWC). Bio-protocol 5(8): e1451. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.1451; Full Text



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