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J Exp Bot. 2002 Dec;53(379):2369-79.

How do water transport and water storage differ in coniferous earlywood and latewood?

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  • 1Department of Wood Science and Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. jc.domec@orst.edu

Abstract

The goal of this research project was to determine the water transport behaviour of earlywood versus latewood in the trunk of 21-year-old Douglas-fir [Pseudostuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] trees. Specific conductivity (k(s)) and the vulnerability of xylem to embolism were measured on a single growth ring and in a subset of earlywood and latewood samples within the same ring. Earlywood/latewood ratio, trunk water potential (Psi) and relative water content (RWC) were used to predict differences in conductivities and vulnerability to embolism. Earlywood has about 11 times the k(s) of latewood, and up to 90% of the total flow occurred through the earlywood. Earlywood's vulnerability to embolism followed the same trend as that of the whole wood, with 50% loss of conductivity at -2.2 MPa (P(50)). Latewood was more vulnerable to embolism than earlywood at high Psi, but as Psi decreased, the latewood showed very little further embolism, with a P(50) <-5.0 MPa. The lowest trunk Psi estimated in the field was about -1.4 MPa, indicating that latewood and earlywood in the field experienced about 42% and 16% loss of k(s), respectively. The higher vulnerability to embolism in latewood than in earlywood at field Psi was associated with higher water storage capacity (21.8% RWC MPa(-1) versus 4.1% RWC MPa(-1), latewood and earlywood, respectively). The shape of the vulnerability curve suggests that air seeding through latewood may occur directly through pores in the margo and seal off at lower pressure than earlywood pores.

PMID:
12432029
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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