Polar Desert Adaptations of a High Arctic Plant Species

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  02 Feb 1973:
Vol. 179, Issue 4072, pp. 496-497
DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4072.496


Plants of Saxifraga oppositifolia (Saxifragaceae) possess metabolic adaptations that allow them to grow successfully in polar desert microenvironments. Net photosynthesis (net carbon uptake) continues to be positive during drought until the leaf water stress declines to the range of -21 to -29 bars, which is considerably below the nonstress range of 0 to -10 bars. The plants can survive leaf water stresses of at least -44 bars in the field and leaf water stresses of -55 bars in a growth chamber.