Journal Article

<i>In vivo</i> Visualization of the Water-refilling Process in Xylem Vessels Using X-ray Micro-imaging

Sang-Joon Lee and Yangmin Kim

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 4, pages 595-602
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcm312
In vivo Visualization of the Water-refilling Process in Xylem Vessels Using X-ray Micro-imaging

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Xylem vessels containing gases (embolized) must be refilled with water if they are to resume transport of water through the plant, so refilling is of great importance for the maintenance of water balance in plants. However, the refilling process is poorly understood because of inadequate examination methods. Simultaneous measurements of plant anatomy and vessel refilling are essential to elucidate the mechanisms involved. In the present work, a new technique based on phase-contrast X-ray imaging is presented that visualizes, in vivo and in real time, both xylem anatomy and refilling of embolized vessels.

Methods

With the synchrotron X-ray micro-imaging technique, the refilling of xylem vessels of leaves and a stem of Phyllostachys bambusoides with water is demonstrated under different conditions. The technique employs phase contrast imaging of X-ray beams, which are transformed into visible light and are photographed by a charge coupled device camera. X-ray images were captured consecutively at every 0·5 s with an exposure time of 10 ms.

Key Results

The interface (meniscus) between the water and gas phases in refilling the xylem vessels is displayed. During refilling, the rising menisci in embolized vessels showed repetitive flow, i.e. they temporarily stopped at the end walls of the vessel elements while gas bubbles were removed. The meniscus then passed through the end wall at a faster rate than the speed of flow in the main vessels. In the light, the speed of refilling in a specific vessel was slower than that in the dark, but this rate increased again after repeated periods in darkness.

Conclusions

Real-time, non-destructive X-ray micro-imaging is an important, useful and novel technique to study the relationship between xylem structure and the refilling of embolized vessels in intact plants. It provides new insight into understanding the mechanisms of water transport and the refilling of embolized vessels, which are not understood well.

Keywords: Micro-imaging; Phyllostachys bambusoides; water refilling; X-ray; xylem vessel

Journal Article.  5263 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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