The role of plasma membrane aquaporins (PIPs) in water relations of Arabidopsis was studied by examining plants with reduced expression of PIP1 and PIP2 aquaporins, produced by crossing two different antisense lines. Compared with controls, the double antisense (dAS) plants had reduced amounts of PIP1 and PIP2 aquaporins, and the osmotic hydraulic conductivity of isolated root and leaf protoplasts was reduced 5- to 30-fold. The dAS plants had a 3-fold decrease in the root hydraulic conductivity expressed on a root dry mass basis, but a compensating 2.5-fold increase in the root to leaf dry mass ratio. The leaf hydraulic conductance expressed on a leaf area basis was similar for the dAS compared with the control plants. As a result, the hydraulic conductance of the whole plant was unchanged. Under sufficient and under water-deficient conditions, stomatal conductance, transpiration rate, plant hydraulic conductance, leaf water potential, osmotic pressure, and turgor pressure were similar for the dAS compared with the control plants. However, after 4 d of rewatering following 8 d of drying, the control plants recovered their hydraulic conductance and their transpiration rates faster than the dAS plants. Moreover, after rewatering, the leaf water potential was significantly higher for the control than for the dAS plants. From these results, we conclude that the PIPs play an important role in the recovery of Arabidopsis from the water-deficient condition.
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