Is xylem of angiosperm leaves less resistant to embolism than branches? Insights from microCT, hydraulics, and anatomy

2018 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Is xylem of angiosperm leaves less resistant to embolism than branches? Insights from microCT, hydraulics, and anatomy​
Klepsch, M.; Zhang, Y.; Kotowska, M. M; Lamarque, L. J; Nolf, M.; Schuldt, B. & Torres-Ruiz, J. M et al.​ (2018) 
Journal of Experimental Botany69(22) pp. 5611​-5623​.​ DOI: 

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Klepsch, Matthias; Zhang, Ya; Kotowska, Martyna M; Lamarque, Laurent J; Nolf, Markus; Schuldt, Bernhard; Torres-Ruiz, José M; Qin, De-Wen; Choat, Brendan; Delzon, Sylvain; Scoffoni, Christine; Cao, Kun-Fang; Jansen, Steven
According to the hydraulic vulnerability segmentation hypothesis, leaves are more vulnerable to decline of hydraulic conductivity than branches, but whether stem xylem is more embolism resistant than leaves remains unclear. Drought-induced embolism resistance of leaf xylem was investigated based on X-ray microcomputed tomography (microCT) for Betula pendula, Laurus nobilis, and Liriodendron tulipifera, excluding outside-xylem, and compared with hydraulic vulnerability curves for branch xylem. Moreover, bordered pit characters related to embolism resistance were investigated for both organs. Theoretical P50 values (i.e. the xylem pressure corresponding to 50% loss of hydraulic conductance) of leaves were generally within the same range as hydraulic P50 values of branches. P50 values of leaves were similar to branches for L. tulipifera (-2.01 versus -2.10 MPa, respectively), more negative for B. pendula (-2.87 versus -1.80 MPa), and less negative for L. nobilis (-6.4 versus -9.2 MPa). Despite more narrow conduits in leaves than branches, mean interconduit pit membrane thickness was similar in both organs, but significantly higher in leaves of B. pendula than in branches. This case study indicates that xylem shows a largely similar embolism resistance across leaves and branches, although differences both within and across organs may occur, suggesting interspecific variation with regard to the hydraulic vulnerability segmentation hypothesis.
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Journal of Experimental Botany 
Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften ; Abteilung Ökologie & Ökosystemforschung 



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