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Catastrophic Hydraulic Failure and Tipping Points in Plants
  • Daniel Johnson,
  • Gabriel G Katul,
  • Jean-Christophe Domec
Daniel Johnson
University of Georgia

Corresponding Author:danjohnson@uga.edu

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Gabriel G Katul
Duke University
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Jean-Christophe Domec
Bordeaux Sciences Agro
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Water inside plants forms a continuous chain from water in soils to the water evaporating from leaf surfaces. Failures in this chain result in reduced transpiration and photosynthesis and these failures are caused by soil drying and/or cavitation-induced xylem embolism. Xylem embolism and plant hydraulic failure share a number of analogies to “catastrophe theory” in dynamical systems. These catastrophes are often represented in the physiological and ecological literature as tipping points or alternative stable states when control variables exogenous (e.g. soil water potential) or endogenous (e.g. leaf water potential) to the plant are allowed to slowly vary. Here, plant hydraulics viewed from the perspective of catastrophes at multiple spatial scales is considered with attention to bubble expansion (i.e. cavitation), organ-scale vulnerability to embolism, and whole-plant biomass as a proxy for transpiration and hydraulic function. The hydraulic safety-efficiency tradeoff, hydraulic segmentation and maximum plant transpiration are examined using this framework. Underlying mechanisms for hydraulic failure at very fine scales such as pit membranes, intermediate scales such as xylem network properties and at larger scales such as soil-tree hydraulic pathways are discussed. Lacunarity areas in plant hydraulics are also flagged where progress is urgently needed.
03 Dec 2021Submitted to Plant, Cell & Environment
07 Dec 2021Submission Checks Completed
07 Dec 2021Assigned to Editor
13 Dec 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
02 Jan 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
09 Jan 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
14 Feb 20221st Revision Received
17 Feb 2022Assigned to Editor
17 Feb 2022Submission Checks Completed
20 Feb 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
28 Feb 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Mar 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
14 Mar 20222nd Revision Received
15 Mar 2022Assigned to Editor
15 Mar 2022Submission Checks Completed
20 Mar 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Mar 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Aug 2022Published in Plant, Cell & Environment volume 45 issue 8 on pages 2231-2266. 10.1111/pce.14327