Martinez-Vilalta J, Mencuccini M, Alvarez X, Camacho J, Loepfe J, Pinol J (2012) Spatial distribution and packing of xylem conduits. 7th Plant Biomechanics International Conference, Clermont-Ferrand, France, 20-24 August 2012. (Comunicació oral).
Martínez-Vilalta J., Mencuccini M., Álvarez X., Camacho J., Loepfe L., Piñol J. (2012) Spatial distribution and packing of xylem conduits. American Journal of Botany. 99: 1189-1196.EnllaçDoi: 10.3732/ajb.1100384
Premise of the study: The hydraulic properties of the xylem determine the ability of plants to transport water from the soil to the leaves and to cope with important stress factors such as frost and drought. Hydraulic properties have usually been studied as a function of the anatomy of xylem conduits and their pits, but recent studies have proposed that system-level properties, related to the topology of the xylem network, may also play a role. Here we study how the spatial arrangement of conduits in xylem cross sections affects the relationship between mean conduit lumen area and conduit density (packing function) across species.Methods: Point pattern analysis was used to describe the spatial distribution of xylem conduits in 97 woody species. The effect of conduit aggregation on the packing function was tested using phylogenetic generalized least squares. A hydraulic model with an explicit description of the topology of the xylem network was used to interpret the functional significance of our findings.Key results: The spatial arrangement of conduits affected the packing function across species, so that species with aggregated distributions tended to have lower conduit densities for a given conduit size and lower conduit lumen fractions. According to our modeling results, the higher conduit-to-conduit connectivity of species with aggregated distributions allows them to achieve higher hydraulic conductivity. Species with aggregated conduits, however, pay a cost in terms of increased vulnerability to embolism.Conclusions: The spatial arrangement of conduits affects the fundamental structural and functional attributes of the xylem. © 2012 Botanical Society of America.
Mencuccini M., Martinez-Vilalta J., Piñol J., Loepfe L., Mireia B., Alvarez X., Camacho J., Gil D. (2010) A quantitative and statistically robust method for the determination of xylem conduit spatial distribution. American Journal of Botany. 97: 1247-1259.EnllaçDoi: 10.3732/ajb.0900289
Premise of the study: Because of their limited length, xylem conduits need to connect to each other to maintain water transport from roots to leaves. Conduit spatial distribution in a cross section plays an important role in aiding this connectivity. While indices of conduit spatial distribution already exist, they are not well defi ned statistically. Methods: We used point pattern analysis to derive new spatial indices. One hundred and fi ve cross-sectional images from different species were transformed into binary images. The resulting point patterns, based on the locations of the conduit centersof-area, were analyzed to determine whether they departed from randomness. Conduit distribution was then modeled using a spatially explicit stochastic model. Key results: The presence of conduit randomness, uniformity, or aggregation depended on the spatial scale of the analysis. The large majority of the images showed patterns signifi cantly different from randomness at least at one spatial scale. A strong phylogenetic signal was detected in the spatial variables. Conclusions: Conduit spatial arrangement has been largely conserved during evolution, especially at small spatial scales. Species in which conduits were aggregated in clusters had a lower conduit density compared to those with uniform distribution. Statistically sound spatial indices must be employed as an aid in the characterization of distributional patterns across species and in models of xylem water transport. Point pattern analysis is a very useful tool in identifying spatial patterns. © 2010 Botanical Society of America.
Piñol J, Martínez-Vilalta J, Loepfe L, Mencuccini M (2008) Internalization of vertical transport in ecosystems: the xylem of woody plants. A: Valladares F, Camacho A, Elosegui A, Gracia C, Estrada M. Unity in diversity. Reflections on Ecology after the Legacy of Ramon Margalef. Bilbao. Fundación BBVA. pp. 393-425.
Loepfe L., Martinez-Vilalta J., Piñol J., Mencuccini M. (2007) The relevance of xylem network structure for plant hydraulic efficiency and safety. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 247: 788-803.EnllaçDoi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.03.036
The xylem is one of the two long distance transport tissues in plants, providing a low resistance pathway for water movement from roots to leaves. Its properties determine how much water can be transported and transpired and, at the same time, the plant's vulnerability to transport dysfunctions (the formation and propagation of emboli) associated to important stress factors, such as droughts and frost. Both maximum transport efficiency and safety against embolism have classically been attributed to the properties of individual conduits or of the pit membrane connecting them. But this approach overlooks the fact that the conduits of the xylem constitute a network. The topology of this network is likely to affect its overall transport properties, as well as the propagation of embolism through the xylem, since, according to the air-seeding hypothesis, drought-induced embolism propagates as a contact process (i.e., between neighbouring conduits). Here we present a model of the xylem that takes into account its system-level properties, including the connectivity of the xylem network. With the tools of graph theory and assuming steady state and Darcy's flow we calculated the hydraulic conductivity of idealized wood segments at different water potentials. A Monte Carlo approach was adopted, varying the anatomical and topological properties of the segments within biologically reasonable ranges, based on data available from the literature. Our results showed that maximum hydraulic conductivity and vulnerability to embolism increase with the connectivity of the xylem network. This can be explained by the fact that connectivity determines the fraction of all the potential paths or conduits actually available for water transport and spread of embolism. It is concluded that the xylem can no longer be interpreted as the mere sum of its conduits, because the spatial arrangement of those conduits in the xylem network influences the main functional properties of this tissue. This brings new arguments into the long-standing discussion on the efficiency vs. safety trade-off in the plants' xylem. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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