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J Theor Biol. 2009 Jul 21;259(2):325-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.03.039. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Linking phloem function to structure: analysis with a coupled xylem-phloem transport model.

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  • 1School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Crew Building, West Mains Road, EH9 3JN Edinburgh, UK. teemu.holtta@helsinki.fi


We carried out a theoretical analysis of phloem transport based on Münch hypothesis by developing a coupled xylem-phloem transport model. Results showed that the maximum sugar transport rate of the phloem was limited by solution viscosity and that transport requirements were strongly affected by prevailing xylem water potential. The minimum number of xylem and phloem conduits required to sustain transpiration and assimilation, respectively, were calculated. At its maximum sugar transport rate, the phloem functioned with a high turgor pressure difference between the sugar sources and sinks but the turgor pressure difference was reduced if additional parallel conduits were added or solute relays were introduced. Solute relays were shown to decrease the number of parallel sieve tubes needed for phloem transport, leading to a more uniform turgor pressure and allowing faster information transmission within the phloem. Because xylem water potential affected both xylem and phloem transport, the conductance of the two systems was found to be coupled such that large structural investments in the xylem reduced the need for investment in the phloem and vice versa.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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