Stem and leaf hydraulic properties are finely coordinated in three tropical rainforest tree species

Nolf, Markus, Creek, Donna, Duursma, Remko, Holtum, Joseph, Mayr, Stefan, and Choat, Brendan (2015) Stem and leaf hydraulic properties are finely coordinated in three tropical rainforest tree species. Plant, Cell and Environment, 38 (12). pp. 2652-2661.

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Abstract

Coordination of stem and leaf hydraulic traits allows terrestrial plants to maintain safe water status under limited water supply. Tropical rainforests, one of the world's most productive biomes, are vulnerable to drought and potentially threatened by increased aridity due to global climate change. However, the relationship of stem and leaf traits within the plant hydraulic continuum remains understudied, particularly in tropical species. We studied within-plant hydraulic coordination between stems and leaves in three tropical lowland rainforest tree species by analyses of hydraulic vulnerability (hydraulic methods and ultrasonic emission (UE) analysis), pressure-volume relations and in situ predawn and midday water potentials (Ψ).

We found finely coordinated stem and leaf hydraulic features, with a strategy of sacrificing leaves in favour of stems. Fifty percent of hydraulic conductivity (P50) was lost at -2.1 to -3.1 MPa in stems and -1.7 to -2.2 MPa in leaves. UE analysis corresponded to hydraulic measurements. Safety margins (leaf P50 – stem P50) were very narrow at -0.4 to -1.4 MPa. Pressure-volume analysis and in situ Ψ indicated safe water status in stems but risk of hydraulic failure in leaves. Our study shows that stem and leaf hydraulics were finely tuned to avoid embolism formation in the xylem.

Item ID: 39305
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-3040
Funders: Australian Academy of Sciences, Daintree Forest Observatory, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FT130101115
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2016 01:09
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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