Changes of hydraulic conductivity during dehydration and rehydration in Quercus serrata Thunb. and Betula platyphylla var. japonica Hara: The effect of xylem structures

Mayumi Ogasa, Naoko Miki, Ken Yoshikawa

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Xylem cavitation and its recovery were studied in 1-year-old stems of ring-porous Quercus serrata Thunb. and diffuse-porous Betula platyphylla var. japonica Hara. The Q. serrata had 5-100 m vessel diameter in the functional current xylem and 5-75 m in nonconducting 1-year-old xylem; B. platyphylla had a narrower range of vessel diameters of 5-55 m and more than double the number of vessels in both functional growth rings. Although hydraulic conductivity of Q. serrata appeared to decrease after release of moderate water stress of a half loss of native hydraulic conductivity - about -2 MPa in xylem water potential - no significant recovery of hydraulic conductivity was observed, probably because of intraspecific variation in vessel diameter distribution, which induced variable vulnerability to cavitation. Furthermore, in terms of xylem anatomy, larger and more efficient vessels of the current xylem did not show obvious refilling. In B. platyphylla, after release of water stress, rapid (1 h) recoveries of both hydraulic conductivity and water potential were apparent after rewatering: so-called 'novel refilling'. During that time, a high degree of vessel refilling was observed in both xylems. At 12 h after rewatering, embolized vessels of the current xylem had refilled completely, although about 20% of vessels were still embolized in 1-year-old xylem. This different pattern of vessel refilling in relation to xylem age for B. platyphylla might be attributable to structural faults in the 1-year-old xylem, such as pit degradation or perhaps xylem aging itself. Results show that Q. serrata performs water conduction using highly efficient large vessels instead of unclear vessel refilling. In contrast, B. platyphylla transports water via less efficient but numerous vessels. If cavitation occurs, B. platyphylla improves water conduction by increasing the degree of vessel refilling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-617
Number of pages10
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010



  • Diffuse-porous
  • Ring-porous
  • Vessel diameter
  • Vessel refilling
  • Water stress
  • Xylem embolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology

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