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Plant Physiol. 1998 Aug;117(4):1463-71.

Visualization of cavitated vessels in winter and refilled vessels in spring in diffuse-porous trees by cryo-scanning electron microscopy

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  • 1Department of Forest Science (Y.U., Y.S., R.F., J.O.).


Xylem cavitation in winter and recovery from cavitation in the spring were visualized in two species of diffuse-porous trees, Betula platyphylla var. japonica Hara and Salix sachalinensis Fr. Schm., by cryo-scanning electron microscopy after freeze-fixation of living twigs. Water in the vessel lumina of the outer three annual rings of twigs of B. platyphylla var. japonica and of S. sachalinensis gradually disappeared during the period from January to March, an indication that cavitation occurs gradually in these species during the winter. In April, when no leaves had yet expanded, the lumina of most of the vessels of both species were filled with water. Many vessel lumina in twigs of both species were filled with water during the period from the subsequent growth season to the beginning of the next winter. These observations indicate that recovery in spring occurs before the onset of transpiration and that water transport through twigs occurs during the subsequent growing season. We found, moreover, that vessels repeat an annual cycle of winter cavitation and spring recovery from cavitation for several years until irreversible cavitation occurs.

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