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Hydraulic recovery from xylem embolism in excised branches of twelve woody species: Relationships with parenchyma cells and non-structural carbohydrates

Trifilò, Patrizia, Kiorapostolou, Natasa, Petruzzellis, Francesco, Vitti, Stefano, Petit, Giai, Lo Gullo, Maria A., Nardini, Andrea, Casolo, Valentino
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2019 v.139 pp. 513-520
bark, branches, carbohydrates, embolism, osmotic pressure, parenchyma (plant tissue), pith, woody plants, xylem
Embolism repair ability has been documented in numerous species. Although the actual mechanism driving this phenomenon is still debated, experimental findings suggest that non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) stored in wood parenchyma would provide the osmotic forces to drive the refilling of embolized conduits.We selected 12 broadleaved species differing in vulnerability to xylem embolism (P50) and amount of wood parenchyma in order to check direct evidence about the possible link(s) between parenchyma cells abundance, NSC availability and species-specific capacity to reverse xylem embolism.Branches were dehydrated until ∼50% loss of hydraulic conductivity was recorded (PLC ∼50%). Hydraulic recovery (ΔPLC) and NSC content was, then, assessed after 1h of rehydration.Species showed a different ability to recover their hydraulic conductivity from PLC∼50%. Removing the bark in the species showing hydraulic recovery inhibited the embolism reversal. Strong correlations between the ΔPLC and: a) the amount of parenchyma cells (mainly driven by the pith area), b) the consumption of soluble NSC have been recorded.Our results support the hypothesis that refilling of embolized vessels is mediated by the mobilization of soluble NSC and it is mainly recorded in species with a higher percentage of parenchyma cells that may be important in the hydraulic recovery mechanism as a source of carbohydrates and/or as a source of water.