Pit membrane porosity and water stress-induced cavitation in four co-existing dry rainforest tree species

Choat, Brendan, Ball, Marilyn, Luly, Jon, and Holtum, Joseph (2003) Pit membrane porosity and water stress-induced cavitation in four co-existing dry rainforest tree species. Plant Physiology, 131 (1). pp. 41-48.

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Aspects of xylem anatomy and vulnerability to water stress-induced embolism were examined in stems of two drought deciduous species, Brachychiton australis (Schott and Endl.) A. Terracc. and Cochlospermum gillivraei Benth., and two evergreen species, Alphitonia excelsa (Fenzal) Benth. and Austromyrtus bidwillii (Benth.) Burret., growing in a seasonally dry rainforest. The deciduous species were more vulnerable to water stress-induced xylem embolism. B. australis and C. gillivraei reached a 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity at -3.17 MPa and -1.44 MPa, respectively; a 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity occurred at -5.56 MPa in A. excelsa and -5.12 MPa in A. bidwillii. To determine whether pit membrane porosity was responsible for greater vulnerability to embolism (air seeding hypothesis), pit membrane structure was examined. Expected pore sizes were calculated from vulnerability curves; however, the predicted inter-specific variation in pore sizes was not detected using scanning electron microscopy (pores were not visible to a resolution of 20 nm). Suspensions of colloidal gold particles were then perfused through branch sections. These experiments indicated that pit membrane pores were between 5 and 20 nm in diameter in all four species. The results may be explained by three possibilities: (a) the pores of the expected size range were not present, (b) larger pores, within the size range to cause air seeding, were present but were rare enough to avoid detection, or (c) pore sizes in the expected range only develop while the membrane is under mechanical stress (during air seeding) due to stretching/flexing.

Item ID: 9033
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1532-2548
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2010 23:14
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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