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Plant Physiol. 1992 Oct;100(2):853-8.

Effect of stem water content on sap flow from dormant maple and butternut stems: induction of sap flow in butternut.

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  • 1Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.


Sap flow from excised maple stems collected over the winter (1986/87) was correlated with stem water content. Stem water content was high in the fall (>0.80) and decreased rapidly during 2 weeks of continuous freezing temperatures in late winter (<0.60). Exudation of sap from stem segments subjected to freeze/thaw cycles was small (<10 mL/kg) in the fall, but substantial exudation (45-50 mL/kg) occurred following the decline in water content. These observations are consistent with Milburn's and O'Malley's models (J.A. Milburn, P.E.R. O'Malley [1984] Can J Bot 62: 2101-2106; P.E.R. O'Malley, J.A. Milburn [1983] Can J Bot 61:3100-3106) of sap absorption into gas-filled fibers during freezing. Exudation volume was increased 200 to 300% in maple stems originally at high water content (>0.80) after perfusion with sucrose and dehydration at -12 degrees C. Sap flow was also induced in butternut stem segments after the same treatment. Thus, sap flow may not be unique to maples. Sap flow could not be increased in stem segments dehydrated at 4 degrees C. Migration of water molecules from small ice crystals in fibers to larger crystals in vessels while stems were frozen may account for increase exudation after dehydration at -12 degrees C. This would result in preferential dehydration of fibers and a distribution of gas and sap favorable for stem-based sap flow.

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