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The xylem of anisohydric Quercus alba L. is more vulnerable to embolism than isohydric co-dominants
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  • Michael Benson,
  • Chelcy Miniat,
  • Andrew Oishi,
  • Sander Denham,
  • Jean-Christophe Domec,
  • Daniel Johnson,
  • Justine Missik,
  • Richard Phillips,
  • Jeffrey Wood,
  • Kimberly Novick
Michael Benson
Indiana University System
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Chelcy Miniat
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory.
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Andrew Oishi
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
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Sander Denham
Indiana University System
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Jean-Christophe Domec
Bordeaux Sciences Agro
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Daniel Johnson
University of Georgia
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Justine Missik
Washington State University
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Richard Phillips
Indiana University
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Jeffrey Wood
University of Missouri
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Kimberly Novick
Indiana University
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The coordination of plant leaf water potential (ΨL) regulation and xylem vulnerability to embolism is fundamental for understanding the tradeoffs between carbon uptake and risk of hydraulic damage. There is a general consensus that trees with vulnerable xylem regulate ΨL more conservatively than plants with resistant xylem. We evaluated if this paradigm applied to three important eastern US temperate tree species, Quercus alba L., Acer saccharum Marsh., and Liriodendron tulipifera L., by synthesizing 1600 ΨL observations, 122 xylem embolism curves, and xylem anatomical measurements across ten forests spanning pronounced hydroclimatological gradients and ages. We found that, unexpectedly, the species with the most vulnerable xylem (Q. alba) regulated ΨL less strictly than the other species. This relationship was found across all sites, such that coordination among traits was largely unaffected by climate and stand age. Quercus species are perceived to be among the most drought tolerant temperate US forest species; however, our results suggest their relatively loose ΨL regulation in response to hydrologic stress occurs with a substantial hydraulic cost that may expose them to novel risks in a more drought-prone future. We end by discussing mechanisms that allow these species to tolerate and/or recover from hydraulic damage.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

13 Oct 2021Submitted to Plant, Cell & Environment
15 Oct 2021Submission Checks Completed
15 Oct 2021Assigned to Editor
17 Oct 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
10 Nov 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Nov 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 Nov 20211st Revision Received
02 Dec 2021Submission Checks Completed
02 Dec 2021Assigned to Editor
07 Dec 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Dec 2021Editorial Decision: Accept