Revisiting Soil Water Potential: Towards a Better Understanding of Soil and Plant Interactions

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Ma Y., Liu H., Yu Y., Guo L., Zhao W., Yetemen Ö.

WATER, vol.14, no.22, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 22
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/w14223721
  • Journal Name: WATER
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), CAB Abstracts, Compendex, Environment Index, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Geobase, INSPEC, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: soil water potential, soil moisture, plant physiology, soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, ecohydrological cycle, TEMPERATURE-DEPENDENCE, RADICLE ELONGATION, NITROGEN-FIXATION, SEED-GERMINATION, HYDRAULIC LIFT, ROOT, MOISTURE, RESPONSES, EMERGENCE, DROUGHT
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Soil water potential (SWP) is vital for controlling the various biological and non-biological processes occurring through and across the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum (SPAC). Although the dynamics and mechanisms of SWP have been investigated for several decades, they are not as widely explored in ecohydrology research as soil moisture, due at least partly to the limitation of field observation methods. This limitation restricts the understanding of the responses of plant physiology and ecological processes to the SWP gradient and the ecohydrological functions of SWP dynamics in different contexts. Hence, in this work, we first briefly revisit the origin and development of the concept of SWP and then analyze the comprehensive factors that influence SWP and the improvement of SWP observation techniques at field scales, as well as strategies for developing new sensors for soil water status. We also propose views of focusing on the response characteristics of plant lateral roots, rather than taproots, to SWP dynamics, and using hormone signaling research to evaluate plant response signals to water stress. We end by providing potential challenges and insights that remain in related research, such as the limitations of the SWP evaluation methods and the future development direction of SWP data collection, management, and analysis. We also emphasize directions for the application of SWP in controlling plant pathogens and promoting the efficiency of resource acquisition by plants. In short, these reflections revisit the unique role of SWP in eco-hydrological processes, provide an update on the development of SWP research, and support the assessment of plant drought vulnerability under current and future climatic conditions.