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      Prediction of hydraulic conductivity loss from relative water loss: new insights into water storage of tree stems and branches

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          More frequently occurring, drought waves call for a deeper understanding of tree hydraulics and fast and easily applicable methods to measure drought stress. The aim of this study was to establish empirical relationships between the percent loss of hydraulic conductivity (PLC) and the relative water loss (RWL) in woody stem axes with different P 50, i.e. the water potential (Ψ) that causes 50% conductivity loss. Branches and saplings of temperate conifer ( Picea abies , Larix decidua ) and angiosperm species ( Acer campestre , Fagus sylvatica , Populus x canescens, Populus tremula , Sorbus torminalis ) and trunk wood of mature P. abies trees were analyzed. P 50 was calculated from hydraulic measurements following bench top dehydration or air injection. RWL and PLC were fitted by linear, quadratic or cubic equations. Species‐ or age‐specific RWLs at P 50 varied between 10 and 25% and P 88, the Ψ that causes 88% conductivity loss, between 18 and 44%. P 50 was predicted from the relationship between Ψ and the RWL. The predictive quality for P 50 across species was almost 1:1 (r 2 = 0.99). The approach presented allows thus reliable and fast prediction of PLC from RWL. Branches and saplings with high hydraulic vulnerability tended to have lower RWLs at P 50 and at P 88. The results are discussed with regard to the different water storage capacities in sapwood and survival strategies under drought stress. Potential applications are screening trees for drought sensitivity and a fast interpretation of diurnal, seasonal or drought induced changes in xylem water content upon their impact on conductivity loss.

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          Most cited references 67

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          Xylem Structure and the Ascent of Sap

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            A method for measuring hydraulic conductivity and embolism in xylem

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              The dynamics of embolism repair in xylem: in vivo visualizations using high-resolution computed tomography.

              Water moves through plants under tension and in a thermodynamically metastable state, leaving the nonliving vessels that transport this water vulnerable to blockage by gas embolisms. Failure to reestablish flow in embolized vessels can lead to systemic loss of hydraulic conductivity and ultimately death. Most plants have developed a mechanism to restore vessel functionality by refilling embolized vessels, but the details of this process in vessel networks under tension have remained unclear for decades. Here we present, to our knowledge, the first in vivo visualization and quantification of the refilling process for any species using high-resolution x-ray computed tomography. Successful vessel refilling in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) was dependent on water influx from surrounding living tissue at a rate of 6 × 10(-4) μm s(-1), with individual droplets expanding over time, filling vessels, and forcing the dissolution of entrapped gas. Both filling and draining processes could be observed in the same vessel, indicating that successful refilling requires hydraulic isolation from tensions that would otherwise prevent embolism repair. Our study demonstrates that despite the presence of tensions in the bulk xylem, plants are able to restore hydraulic conductivity in the xylem.

                Author and article information

                Physiol Plant
                Physiol Plant
                Physiologia Plantarum
                Blackwell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                04 September 2018
                April 2019
                : 165
                : 4 ( doiID: 10.1111/ppl.2019.165.issue-4 )
                : 843-854
                [ 1 ] Institute of Botany BOKU University Vienna Gregor Mendel Straße 33, 1180 Vienna Austria
                [ 2 ] Department of Forest Genetics, Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests Natural Hazards and Landscape Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8, 1130 Vienna Austria
                [ 3 ] Division of Viticulture and Pomology BOKU University Vienna Konrad Lorenz‐Straβe 24 3430 Tulln an der Donau Austria
                [ 4 ] INTA, EEA Bariloche Grupo de Ecología Forestal San Carlos de Bariloche Río Negro Argentina
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence

                Corresponding author,

                e‐mail: sabine.rosner@

                © 2018 The Authors. Physiologia Plantarum published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, Pages: 12, Words: 7354
                Funded by: European Union's Horizon 2020 (Marie Skłodowska‐Curie)
                Award ID: 645654
                Original Article
                Original Articles
                Custom metadata
                April 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.8.5 mode:remove_FC converted:24.07.2020

                Plant science & Botany


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