Atmospheric vapor pressure deficit is critical in predicting growth response of "cool-season" grass Festuca arundinacea to temperature change. Academic Article uri icon


  • There is a lack of information on plant response to multifactor environmental variability including the interactive response to temperature and atmospheric humidity. These two factors are almost always confounded because saturated vapor pressure increases exponentially with temperature, and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) could have a large impact on plant growth. In this study using climate controlled mini-greenhouses, we examined the interacting influence of temperature and VPD on long-term growth of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb), a cool season grass. From past studies it was expected that growth of tall fescue would decline with warmer temperatures over the range of 18.5-27 degrees C, but growth actually increased markedly with increasing temperature when VPD was held constant. In contrast, growth declined in experiments where tall fescue was exposed to increasing VPD and temperature was held constant at 21 degrees C. The inhibited growth appears to be in response to a maximum transpiration rate that can be supported by the tall fescue plants. The sensitivity to VPD indicates that if VPD remains stable in future climates as it has in the past, growth of tall fescue could well be stimulated rather than decreased by global warming in temperate climate zones.

published proceedings

  • Planta

author list (cited authors)

  • Sinclair, T., Fiscus, E., Wherley, B., Durham, M., & Rufty, T.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Sinclair, Thomas||Fiscus, Edwin||Wherley, Ben||Durham, Michael||Rufty, Thomas

publication date

  • January 2007