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Xylem embolism spread is largely prevented by interconduit pit membranes until the majority of conduits are gas-filled
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  • Rodrigo Avila,
  • Xinyi Guan,
  • Cade Kane,
  • Amanda Cardoso,
  • Timothy Batz,
  • Fabio DaMatta,
  • Steven Jansen,
  • Scott McAdam
Rodrigo Avila
Universidade Federal de Viçosa
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Xinyi Guan
University of Ulm Institute for Systematic Botany and Ecology
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Cade Kane
Purdue University
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Amanda Cardoso
Purdue University
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Timothy Batz
Purdue University
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Fabio DaMatta
Universidade Federal de Viçosa
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Steven Jansen
Institute of Systematic Botany and Ecology
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Scott McAdam
University of Tasmania
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Abstract

Xylem embolism resistance varies across species influencing drought tolerance, yet little is known about the determinants of the embolism resistance of an individual conduit. Here we conducted an experiment using the optical vulnerability method to test whether individual conduits have a specific water potential threshold for embolism formation and whether pre-existing embolism in neighbouring conduits alters this threshold. Observations were made on a diverse sample of angiosperm and conifer species through a cycle of dehydration, rehydration and subsequent dehydration to death. Upon rehydration after the formation of embolism, no refilling was observed. When little pre-existing embolism was present, xylem conduits had a conserved, individual, embolism resistance threshold that varied across the population of conduits. The consequence of a variable conduit-specific embolism threshold is that a small degree of pre-existing embolism in the xylem results in an apparently more resistant xylem in a subsequent dehydration, particularly in angiosperms with vessels. While our results suggest that pit membranes separating xylem conduits are critical for maintaining a conserved individual embolism threshold for given conduit when little pre-exisiting embolism is present, as the percentage of embolized conduits increases, gas movement, local pressure differences, and connectivity between conduits increasingly contribute to embolism spread.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

01 Aug 2021Submitted to Plant, Cell & Environment
02 Aug 2021Assigned to Editor
02 Aug 2021Submission Checks Completed
11 Aug 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned