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Sieve tube structural variation in Austrobaileya scandens and its significance for lianescence
  • Juan Losada,
  • Zhe He,
  • Noel Holbrook
Juan Losada

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Zhe He
Harvard University
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Noel Holbrook
Harvard University
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Lianas combine large leaf areas with slender stems, features that require an efficient vascular system. The only extant member of the Austrobaileyaceae is an endemic twining liana of the tropical Australian forests with well-known xylem hydraulics, but the vascular phloem continuum aboveground remains understudied. Microscopy analysis across leaf veins and stems of A. scandens revealed a low foliar xylem to phloem ratio, with isodiametric vascular elements along the midrib, but tapered across vein orders. Small sieve plate pore radii increased from 0.08 µm in minor veins to 0.12 µm in the petiole, but only to 0.20 µm at the stem base, tens of meters away. In searcher branches, phloem conduits contained a pectin-rich wall and simple plates, whereas in twinning stems, conduits connected through highly-angled-densely populated sieve plates. Twisted and elongated stems of A. scandens display a high hydraulic resistance of phloem conduits, which decreases from leaves to stems, efficiently delivering photoassimilate from sources under Münch predictions. Sink strength of a continuously growing canopy might be stronger than in self-supporting understory plants, favoring resource allocation to aerial organs in angiosperms that colonized the vertical niche.
Aug 2022Published in Plant, Cell & Environment volume 45 issue 8 on pages 2460-2475. 10.1111/pce.14361