Weak tradeoff between xylem safety and xylem-specific hydraulic efficiency across the world's woody plant species

Gleason S.M., Westoby M., Jansen S., Choat B., Hacke U.G., Pratt R.B., Bhaskar R., Brodribb T.J., Bucci S.J., Cao K.-F., Cochard H., Delzon S., Domec J.-C., Fan Z.-X., Feild T.S., Jacobsen A.L., Johnson D.M., Lens F., Maherali H., Martinez-Vilalta J., Mayr S., Mcculloh K.A., Mencuccini M., Mitchell P.J., Morris H., Nardini A., Pittermann J., Plavcova L., Schreiber S.G., Sperry J.S., Wright I.J., Zanne A.E. (2015) Weak tradeoff between xylem safety and xylem-specific hydraulic efficiency across the world's woody plant species. New Phytologist. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/nph.13646

Resum:

The evolution of lignified xylem allowed for the efficient transport of water under tension, but also exposed the vascular network to the risk of gas emboli and the spread of gas between xylem conduits, thus impeding sap transport to the leaves. A well-known hypothesis proposes that the safety of xylem (its ability to resist embolism formation and spread) should trade off against xylem efficiency (its capacity to transport water). We tested this safety-efficiency hypothesis in branch xylem across 335 angiosperm and 89 gymnosperm species. Safety was considered at three levels: the xylem water potentials where 12%, 50% and 88% of maximal conductivity are lost. Although correlations between safety and efficiency were weak (r2

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Coordination of physiological traits involved in drought-induced mortality of woody plants

Mencuccini M., Minunno F., Salmon Y., Martinez-Vilalta J., Holtta T. (2015) Coordination of physiological traits involved in drought-induced mortality of woody plants. New Phytologist. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/nph.13461

Resum:

Accurate modelling of drought-induced mortality is challenging. A steady-state model is presented integrating xylem and phloem transport, leaf-level gas exchange and plant carbohydrate consumption during drought development. A Bayesian analysis of parameter uncertainty based on expert knowledge and a literature review is carried out. The model is tested by combining six data compilations covering 170 species using information on sensitivities of xylem conductivity, stomatal conductance and leaf turgor to water potential. The possible modes of plant failure at steady state are identified (i.e. carbon (C) starvation, hydraulic failure and phloem transport failure). Carbon starvation occurs primarily in the parameter space of isohydric stomatal control, whereas hydraulic failure is prevalent in the space of xylem susceptibility to embolism. Relative to C starvation, phloem transport failure occurs under conditions of low sensitivity of photosynthesis and high sensitivity of growth to plant water status. These three failure modes are possible extremes along two axes of physiological vulnerabilities, one characterized by the balance of water supply and demand and the other by the balance between carbohydrate sources and sinks. Because the expression of physiological vulnerabilities is coordinated, we argue that different failure modes should occur with roughly equal likelihood, consistent with predictions using optimality theory. © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.

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Balancing the risks of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation: A twig scale analysis in declining Scots pine

Salmon Y., Torres-Ruiz J.M., Poyatos R., Martinez-Vilalta J., Meir P., Cochard H., Mencuccini M. (2015) Balancing the risks of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation: A twig scale analysis in declining Scots pine. Plant, Cell and Environment. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/pce.12572

Resum:

Understanding physiological processes involved in drought-induced mortality is important for predicting the future of forests and for modelling the carbon and water cycles. Recent research has highlighted the variable risks of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure in drought-exposed trees. However, little is known about the specific responses of leaves and supporting twigs, despite their critical role in balancing carbon acquisition and water loss. Comparing healthy (non-defoliated) and unhealthy (defoliated) Scots pine at the same site, we measured the physiological variables involved in regulating carbon and water resources. Defoliated trees showed different responses to summer drought compared with non-defoliated trees. Defoliated trees maintained gas exchange while non-defoliated trees reduced photosynthesis and transpiration during the drought period. At the branch scale, very few differences were observed in non-structural carbohydrate concentrations between health classes. However, defoliated trees tended to have lower water potentials and smaller hydraulic safety margins. While non-defoliated trees showed a typical response to drought for an isohydric species, the physiology appears to be driven in defoliated trees by the need to maintain carbon resources in twigs. These responses put defoliated trees at higher risk of branch hydraulic failure and help explain the interaction between carbon starvation and hydraulic failure in dying trees. Understanding the physiological responses of leaves to drought is crucial since they are the site of both photosynthesis and transpiration, and hence play key roles in balancing the risks of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure. Co-occurring healthy and unhealthy Scots pines showed different responses to summer drought: while healthy trees showed a typical response to drought for an isohydric species, atypical physiology in unhealthy trees appears to be driven by the need to maintain carbohydrate availability in needles and twigs. These responses put unhealthy trees at higher risk of branch hydraulic failure and help to explain the interaction between carbon-starvation and hydraulic failure in dying trees. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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