701-1343-00L  Soil-Plant Water Relations

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersA. Carminati
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


701-1343-00 VSoil-Plant Water Relations2 hrs
Fri10:15-12:00ML H 41.1 »
A. Carminati

Catalogue data

AbstractWater limitation is a primary constraint on plant growth and terrestrial fluxes worldwide. In this course, the principles of water flow in soil and plants are discussed, with particular attention on the effect of drought on root water uptake, transpiration and plant growth. Strategies of plants to tolerate drought are discussed in relation to both agricultural and ecological implications.
ObjectiveThe students are able to: explain and compare systematically the drivers of water stress to plants; to solve the equations of water flow in soil and plants and to calculate plant water status for varying soil and climatic conditions and plant traits; to critically review and present one research question in soil-plant water relations; to openly debate on the current trends in soil and plant water research and climate change ecology.
ContentPart 1 - Lectures
Week 1: Introduction.
Week 2: Soil water relations; Principles of soil water retention and soil water flow; Soil hydraulic properties.
Week 3: Root water uptake; soil hydraulic constraints on transpiration
Week 4: Rhizosphere processes and properties; root-soil contact; root hairs; mycorrhiza; rhizodeposition.
Week 5: Water flow in roots and xylem; root anatomy, architecture and plasticity; cavitation.
Week 6: Transpiration; Vapor Pressure Deficit; Photosynthesis; Stomatal regulation.
Week 7: Soil-plant-atmospheric continuum; Below- and above-ground feedbacks; Soil and atmospheric drivers of transpiration losses.

Part 2 - Seminars
Week 8: Modelling Soil-Plant Water Relations (Concept)
Week 9: Modelling Soil-Plant Water Relations (Implementation)
Week 10: Plant response to drought and consequences for agriculture and forests. Open questions and introduction to seminar topics.
Week 11: Independent work
Week 12: Seminar (presentations)
Week 13: Seminar (presentations)
Week 14: Seminar (presentations)
LiteratureLecture notes; selection of articles
Prerequisites / NoticeVadose Zone Hydrology/Environmental Soil Physics (recommended but not required)
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Media and Digital Technologiesfostered
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Cooperation and Teamworkassessed
Leadership and Responsibilityassessed
Self-presentation and Social Influence fostered
Sensitivity to Diversityfostered
Personal CompetenciesAdaptability and Flexibilityfostered
Creative Thinkingfostered
Critical Thinkingfostered
Self-awareness and Self-reflection fostered
Self-direction and Self-management fostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersA. Carminati
Typeungraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationOral presentation and written report of selected topic.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


Places50 at the most
PriorityRegistration for the course unit is until 28.08.2023 only possible for the primary target group
Primary target groupEnvironmental Engineering MSc (127000)
Environmental Sciences MSc (736000)
Agricultural Sciences MSc (762000)
Waiting listuntil 01.10.2023

Offered in

Agricultural Sciences MasterFunctioning of Soil SystemsW+Information
Environmental Engineering MasterEM: SoilWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterMinor in Agricultural Plant Production and EnvironmentWInformation