Dew water-uptake pathways in Negev desert plants: a study using stable isotope tracers

Amber J. Hill, Todd E. Dawson, Avraham Dody, Shimon Rachmilevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Dew is an important water resource for plants in most deserts. The mechanism that allows desert plants to use dew water was studied using an isotopic water tracer approach. Most plants use water directly from the soil; the roots transfer the water to the rest of the plant, where it is required for all metabolic functions. However, many plants can also take up water into their leaves and stems. Examining the dew water uptake pathways in desert plants can lend insight on another all water-use pathways examination. We determined where and how dew water enters plants in the water limited Negev desert. Highly depleted isotopic water was sprayed on three different dominant plant species of the Negev desert—Artemesia sieberi, Salsola inermis and Haloxylon scoparium—and its entry into the plant was followed. Water was sprayed onto the soil only, or on the leaves/stems only (with soil covered to prevent water entry via root uptake). Thereafter, the isotopic composition of water in the roots and stems were measured at various time points. The results show that each plant species used the dew water to a different extent, and we obtained evidence of foliar uptake capacity of dew water that varied depending on the microenvironmental conditions. A. sieberi took up the greatest amount of dew water through both stems and roots, S. inermis took up dew water mainly from the roots, and H. scoparium showed the least dew capture overall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-361
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Desert plants
  • Foliar water uptake
  • Root water uptake
  • Stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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