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Linking drought‐induced xylem embolism resistance to wood anatomical traits in Neotropical trees

Abstract : Drought-induced xylem embolism is considered to be one of the main factors driving mortality in woody plants worldwide. Although several structure-functional mechanisms have been tested to understand the anatomical determinants of embolism resistance, there is a need to study this topic by integrating anatomical data for many species. We combined optical, laser, and transmission electron microscopy to investigate vessel diameter, vessel grouping, and pit membrane ultrastructure for 26 tropical rainforest tree species across three major clades (magnoliids, rosiids, and asteriids). We then related these anatomical observations to previously published data on drought-induced embolism resistance, with phylogenetic analyses. Vessel diameter, vessel grouping, and pit membrane ultrastructure were all predictive of xylem embolism resistance, but with weak predictive power. While pit membrane thickness was a predictive trait when vestured pits were taken into account, the pit membrane diameter-to-thickness ratio suggests a strong importance of the deflection resistance of the pit membrane. However, phylogenetic analyses weakly support adaptive co-evolution. Our results emphasize the functional significance of pit membranes for air-seeding in tropical rainforest trees, highlighting also the need to study their mechanical properties due to the link between embolism resistance and pit membrane diameter-to-thickness ratio. Finding support for adaptive co-evolution also remains challenging.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02970855
Contributor : Yannick Brohard <>
Submitted on : Monday, October 19, 2020 - 9:33:51 AM
Last modification on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 2:42:43 PM

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Sébastien Levionnois, Steven Jansen, Ruth Tchana Wandji, Jacques Beauchêne, Camille Ziegler, et al.. Linking drought‐induced xylem embolism resistance to wood anatomical traits in Neotropical trees. New Phytologist, Wiley, 2021, 229 (3), pp.1453-1466. ⟨10.1111/nph.16942⟩. ⟨hal-02970855⟩

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