Main content area

Bundle sheath lignification mediates the linkage of leaf hydraulics and venation

Ohtsuka, Akihiro, Sack, Lawren, Taneda, Haruhiko
Plant, cell and environment 2018 v.41 no.2 pp. 342-353
Angiospermae, fluid mechanics, interspecific variation, leaves, lignification, lignin, mesophyll, trees, xylem
The lignification of the leaf vein bundle sheath (BS) has been observed in many species and would reduce conductance from xylem to mesophyll. We hypothesized that lignification of the BS in lower‐order veins would provide benefits for water delivery through the vein hierarchy but that the lignification of higher‐order veins would limit transport capacity from xylem to mesophyll and leaf hydraulic conductance (Kₗₑₐf). We further hypothesized that BS lignification would mediate the relationship of Kₗₑₐf to vein length per area. We analysed the dependence of Kₗₑₐf, and its light response, on the lignification of the BS across vein orders for 11 angiosperm tree species. Eight of 11 species had lignin deposits in the BS of the midrib, and two species additionally only in their secondary veins, and for six species up to their minor veins. Species with lignification of minor veins had a lower hydraulic conductance of xylem and outside‐xylem pathways and lower Kₗₑₐf. Kₗₑₐf could be strongly predicted by vein length per area and highest lignified vein order (R² = .69). The light‐response of Kₗₑₐf was statistically independent of BS lignification. The lignification of the BS is an important determinant of species variation in leaf and thus whole plant water transport.