A dynamic yet vulnerable pipeline: Integration and coordination of hydraulic traits across whole plants.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

The vast majority of measurements in the field of plant hydraulics have been on small-diameter branches from woody species. These measurements have provided considerable insight into plant functioning, but our understanding of plant physiology and ecology would benefit from a broader view, because branch hydraulic properties are influenced by many factors. Here, we discuss the influence that other components of the hydraulic network have on branch vulnerability to embolism propagation. We also modelled the impact of changes in the ratio of root-to-leaf areas and soil texture on vulnerability to hydraulic failure along the soil-to-leaf continuum and showed that hydraulic function is better maintained through changes in root vulnerability and root-to-leaf area ratio than in branch vulnerability. Differences among species in the stringency with which they regulate leaf water potential and in reliance on stored water to buffer changes in water potential also affect the need to construct embolism resistant branches. Many approaches, such as measurements on fine roots, small individuals, combining sap flow and psychrometry techniques, and modelling efforts, could vastly improve our understanding of whole-plant hydraulic functioning. A better understanding of how traits are coordinated across the whole plant will improve predictions for plant function under future climate conditions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McCulloh, KA; Domec, J-C; Johnson, DM; Smith, DD; Meinzer, FC

Published Date

  • October 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 2789 - 2807

PubMed ID

  • 31273812

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1365-3040

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0140-7791

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/pce.13607


  • eng