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How are leaves plumbed inside a branch? Differences in leaf-to-leaf hydraulic sectoriality among six temperate tree species

Orians, Colin M., Smith, Sigrid D.P., Sack, Lawren
Journal of experimental botany 2005 v.56 no.418 pp. 2267-2273
Magnoliopsida, forest trees, leaves, branches, plant vascular system, sugars, translocation (plant physiology), sap flow, shoots, petioles, leaf area, leaf conductance, plant-water relations, phyllotaxy, vascular bundles, gas exchange
The transport of water, sugar, and nutrients in trees is restricted to specific vascular pathways, and thus organs may be relatively isolated from one another (i.e. sectored). Strongly sectored leaf-to-leaf pathways have been shown for the transport of sugar and signal molecules within a shoot, but not previously for water transport. The hydraulic sectoriality of leaf-to-leaf pathways was determined for current year shoots of six temperate deciduous tree species (three ring-porous: Castanea dentata, Fraxinus americana, and Quercus rubra, and three diffuse-porous: Acer saccharum, Betula papyrifera, and Liriodendron tulipifera). Hydraulic sectoriality was determined using dye staining and a hydraulic method. In the dye method, leaf blades were removed and dye was forced into the most proximal petiole. For each petiole the vascular traces that were shared with the proximal petiole were counted. For other shoots, measurements were made of the leaf-area-specific hydraulic conductivity for the leaf-to-leaf pathways (k[subscript LL]). In five out of the six species, patterns of sectoriality reflected phyllotaxy; both the sharing of vascular bundles between leaves and k[subscript LL] were higher for orthostichous than non-orthostichous leaf pairs. For each species, leaf-to-leaf sectoriality was determined as the proportional differences between non-orthostichous versus orthostichous leaf pairs in their staining of shared vascular bundles and in their k[subscript LL]; for the six species these two indices of sectoriality were strongly correlated (R²=0.94; P <0.002). Species varied 8-fold in their k[subscript LL]-based sectoriality, and ring-porous species were more sectored than diffuse-porous species. Differential leaf-to-leaf sectoriality has implications for species-specific co-ordination of leaf gas exchange and water relations within a branch, especially during fluctuations in irradiance and water and nutrient availability.