14.3 Field responses

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It is sometimes possible to extrapolate from in vitro biochemical or single-cell reaction to whole-plant responses to temperature, but a recurring theme in considering the response of plants to changes in temperature is the complexity imposed by integration and acclimation.

Integration is a major issue when considering the influence of temperature on assimilate partitioning to different plant organs, particularly, for example, when examining the balance between root and shoot growth. Tissues have varying ability to adapt to a change in the environment: they will either maximise their function under the new conditions or restructure and go into a period of dormancy (survival mode) until the stress has abated.

Given a considerable body of knowledge on plant response to temperature it is now possible to define temperature optima as well as limits for growth, and to relate growth and development to field temperature. This has a practical application in modelling the response to temperature and predicting likely consequences of genetically modified plant reaction.