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Plasticity of the xylem vulnerability to embolism in Populus tremula x alba relies on pit quantity properties rather than on pit structure

Abstract : Knowledge on variations of drought resistance traits are needed to predict the potential of trees to acclimate to coming severe drought events. Xylem vulnerability to embolism is a key parameter related to such droughts, and its phenotypic variability relies mainly on environmental plasticity. We investigated the structural determinants controlling the plasticity of vulnerability to embolism, focusing on the key elements involved in the air bubble entry in vessels, especially the inter-vessel pits. Poplar saplings (Populus tremula x alba) grown in contrasted water availability or light exposure exhibited differences in vulnerability to embolism (P50) in a range of 0.76 MPa. We then characterized the structural changes in features related to pit quantity and pit structure, from the pit ultrastructure to the organization of xylem vessels, using different microscopy techniques (TEM, SEM, LM). A multispectral combination of X-ray microtomography and light microscopy analysis allowed measuring the vulnerability of each single vessel and testing some of the relationships between structural traits and vulnerability to embolism inside the xylem. The pit ultrastructure did not change, whereas the vessel dimensions increased with vulnerability to embolism and the grouping index and fraction of inter-vessel cell wall both decreased with vulnerability to embolism. These findings hold when comparing between trees, or between the vessels inside the xylem of an individual tree. These results evidenced that plasticity of vulnerability to embolism in hybrid poplar occurs through changes in the pit quantity properties such as pit area and vessel grouping rather than on the pit structure.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 15, 2021 - 3:55:44 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 7, 2022 - 5:26:27 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, May 16, 2021 - 7:47:56 PM


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Cedric Lemaire, Nicole Brunel-Michac, Jérémie Santini, Liliane Berti, Julien Cartailler, et al.. Plasticity of the xylem vulnerability to embolism in Populus tremula x alba relies on pit quantity properties rather than on pit structure. Tree Physiology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021, 41 (8), pp.1384-1399. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpab018⟩. ⟨hal-03141908⟩



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