A broad survey of hydraulic and mechanical safety in the xylem of conifers.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Drought-induced forest dieback has been widely reported over the last decades, and the evidence for a direct causal link between survival and hydraulic failure (xylem cavitation) is now well known. Because vulnerability to cavitation is intimately linked to the anatomy of the xylem, the main objective of this study was to better understand the xylem anatomical properties associated with cavitation resistance. An extensive data set of cavitation resistance traits and xylem anatomical properties was developed for 115 conifer species, with special attention given to the micro-morphology of bordered pits. The ratio of torus to pit aperture diameter, so-called torus overlap, increased with increasing cavitation resistance, while the flexibility of the margo does not seem to play a role, suggesting that air-seeding is located at the seal between the aspirated torus and pit aperture. Moreover, punctured tori were reported in various Pinaceae species. Species resistant to cavitation had thicker tracheid walls, while their lumen diameter (conduit size) was only slightly reduced, minimizing the impact on hydraulic conductance. The results also demonstrated (i) the existence of an indirect trade-off between hydraulic safety and mechanical strength; and (ii) a consistency between species distribution and xylem anatomy: species with a wide torus overlap and high valve effects are found in arid environments such as the Mediterranean region.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bouche, PS; Larter, M; Domec, J-C; Burlett, R; Gasson, P; Jansen, S; Delzon, S

Published Date

  • August 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 65 / 15

Start / End Page

  • 4419 - 4431

PubMed ID

  • 24916072

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4112641

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-2431

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0957

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/jxb/eru218


  • eng