Measuring Leaf Water Status: Tom Buckley Receives Seed Grant for International Partnership

Tom Buckley, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis, received a 2018–2019 Seed Grant from UC Davis Global Affairs for the project “Applying a Revolutionary New Method to Measure Leaf Water Potential in Intact, Functioning Leaves.”

Global Affairs partners with UC Davis faculty to take on global innovative research, service, and engagement projects. The interdisciplinary projects help develop new partnerships, long-term collaborations, and opportunities to advance the health for people, animals, and the planet.

Buckley will work colleagues Andrew Merchant (University of Sydney, Australia) and Carel Windt (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany), who will visit his lab in 2019 and 2020 to set up a benchtop NMR system that measures leaf water content in real time, on intact, photosynthesizing, and transpiring leaves. They will use the system to make repeated measurements of water potential on intact, transpiring leaves for the first time, to resolve important questions about how water potential affects parameters of leaf function such as hydraulic conductance, photosynthetic capacity, and stomatal conductance.

“The questions we’re hoping to answer involve fundamental features of how photosynthesis and water loss are affected by water stress in living plants,” said Buckley. “To date, we have only been able to address these questions using destructive methods that combine measurements on active and inactive leaves and cannot be repeated on the same leaf.

“The knowledge obtained with this technique will greatly improve our confidence in inferences about how water stress affects these key traits,” he added. “This in turn will help us select better plant varieties for future climate conditions and make more confident predictions of how climate influences plant–atmosphere exchange of CO2 and water.”

Tom Buckley, UC Davis

Tom Buckley, UC Davis Dept. of Plant Sciences, is measuring leaf hydraulic conductance in tomato leaves. (photo Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Buckley plans to leverage the experimental results into major external funding, and further develop their international partnership.

The Global Affairs Seed Grants for International Activities has awarded funding to over 205 UC Davis programs in the last several years.

Past ‘Seed Grant’ projects funded to the Department of Plant Sciences:

  • Allen Van Deynze, Kent Bradford: The African Orphan Crops Consortium (Africa); 2013
  • Jim Hill, Alan Bennett: Achieving International Agriculture Development through Scientific Exchange Opportunities between UC Davis and Latin America and the Caribbean; 2012
  • Carlos Crisosto, Ted DeJong: Promoting Lifelong Learning and Academic Engagement in Fruit and Nut Tree Agriculture; 2012
  • Diane Beckles: Strengthening Research and Educational Opportunities for Postharvest Biology between Kasetart University and UC Davis (Thailand); 2011
  • Johan Six: Engaging Farmers and Building Local Capacity to Enhance Soil Functioning and Food Security through Conservation Agriculture in Chiapas, Mexico; 2011
  • Chris van Kessel, Bruce Linquist: Collaborative Research to Reduce the Carbon and Water Footprint of Rice in Mediterranean climates (Italy); 2011
  • Valerie Eviner: Linking Agricultural Livelihoods and Conservation Priorities in Costa Rica: Collaboration between UC Davis and the CATIE for Tropical Agriculture Research and Education; 2008
  • Kent Bradford: Investigating the Establishment of a UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center in Chile; 2007
  • Marita Cantwell: Focus on Postharvest Practices and Food Safety Issues for Small-scale Specialty Vegetable Growers in China and California; 2007
  • Johan Six, Steve Fonte: Advancing Soil Conservation Research through Enhanced Stakeholder–Researcher Interaction in Rural Honduras; 2007
  • Valerie Eviner: Linking Science and Management in Restoration Projects: Training Students through a U.S.–China Collaboration; 2006
  • Jim Hill: Enhancing Rwanda Research and Technology Transfer Capacity to Sustain Increased Productivity and Competitiveness in Food Crops: A Collaborative Effort of the Government of Rwanda and UC Davis; 2006
  • Johan Six: Technology Transfer and Engagement for Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Ghana; 2006
  • Shu Geng, Dennis Pendleton: Development for UC Davis Extension and Alumni Association Programs in China; 2005
  • Jim Hill, Cary Trexler, Elizabeth Mitcham: Collaborative Agricultural Research and Development (CARD): Next Steps in the UC Davis and Can Tho University Partnership (Vietnam); 2005
  • Patrick H. Brown: UC Davis–Wageningen University Partnership Program in Plant Sciences, sustainable Agriculture, Food Sciences, and Environmental Sciences (Netherlands); 2004
  • Roger Chetelat: Collaboration between UC Davis and Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (Taiwan); 2004
  • Daniel Potter: International Meeting of Sapotaceae Researchers (Costa Rica); 2004
  • Daniel Potter, Jeanine Pfieffer: Biodiversity Research and Conservation in Southeast Asia: A Regional Convention to Develop UC Davis Research Partnerships and Student Internships (Indonesia, Philippines); 2003
  • Jim Hill, Patrick H. Brown: Can Tho University Partnerships (Vietnam); 2003
  • Calvin O. Qualset: Exploring a New Paradigm for Agricultural Development: Lithuania; 2002
  • Patrick H. Brown: Partnerships in Education and Research with Zhejiang University (China); 2002
  • Shu Geng: Build a New Partnership with Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Through a Research Collaboration on Water Resource Management (China); 2002

(Article by Ann Filmer, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis)

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