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Hydraulic conductance of Acacia phyllodes (foliage) is driven by primary nerve (vein) conductance and density
- SOMMERVILLE, KATY E., SACK, LAWREN, BALL, MARILYN C.
- Plant, cell and environment 2012 v.35 no.1 pp. 158-168
- Acacia, climate, dispersions, leaves, nerve tissue, rain, xylem
- We determined effects of venation traits on hydraulic conductance of phyllodes (foliage), using an array of Acacia s.str. species with diverse phyllode morphologies as the source of variation. Measurements were made on phyllodes from 44 species, grown in common gardens but originating from different positions along a precipitation gradient. Kphyllode varied 18‐fold and was positively correlated with primary nerve hydraulic conductance, and with primary nerve (vein) density but not with minor nerve density, in contrast with previous studies of true leaves in other dicotyledons. Phyllodes with higher primary nerve density also had greater mass per area (PMA) and larger bundle sheath extensions (BSEs) from their minor nerves. We suggest that higher primary nerve conductivity and density may decrease the distance travelled in the high‐resistance extra‐xylem pathways of the phyllode. Further, larger BSEs may increase the area available for dispersion of water from the xylem to the extra‐xylem tissue. High PMA phyllodes were more common in acacias from areas receiving lower annual precipitation. Maximizing efficient water movement through phyllodes may be more important where rainfall is meagre and infrequent, explaining relationships between nerve patterns and the climates of origin in Australian phyllodinous Acacia.