Journal Article

The effect of tree architecture on conduit diameter and frequency from small distal roots to branch tips in <i>Betula pendula</i>, <i>Picea abies</i> and <i>Pinus sylvestris</i>

Anna Lintunen and Tuomo Kalliokoski

Edited by Ülo Niinemets

in Tree Physiology

Volume 30, issue 11, pages 1433-1447
Published in print November 2010 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
The effect of tree architecture on conduit diameter and frequency from small distal roots to branch tips in Betula pendula, Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris

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We studied the effect of tree architecture on xylem anatomy in three Betula pendula Roth., three Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. and three Pinus sylvestris (L.) trees (mean age 35 years). First, the analysis of conduit anatomy in different tree parts showed that conduits tapered and their frequency increased from roots (≥2 mm) to stem, from stem to branches and further to leaf petioles in B. pendula. Conduit anatomy in lateral and main roots, as well as lateral and main branches, significantly differed from each other in all the studied species. The increase in conduit diameter and decrease in frequency from the pith to the bark were clear aboveground, but variable patterns were observed belowground. In the leaf petioles of B. pendula, conduit diameter increased and conduit frequency decreased with increasing individual leaf area. Second, the results concerning the scaling of conduit diameter were compared with the predictions of the general vascular scaling model (WBE model) and Murray's law. The scaling parameter values at the tree level corresponded with the predictions of the WBE model in all the studied trees except for one tree of both conifer species. However, the scaling parameter values changed from one tree compartment to another rather than remaining uniform inside a tree, as assumed by the WBE model. The assumptions of the WBE model of a constant conductivity ratio, constant tapering and an unchanged total number of conduits were not fulfilled. When the conductivity ratio and relative tapering were plotted together, the results aboveground corresponded quite well with Murray's law: the conductivity ratio increased when relative tapering decreased. Our results support the theory that trees adjust both their macro- and microstructure to maximize their water transport efficiency, but also to prevent embolism and ensure mechanical safety.

Keywords: conduit scaling; conduit tapering; tracheids; vessels; xylem anatomy

Journal Article.  9568 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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