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Tree Physiol. 1999 Jan;19(1):53-58.

The effect of aqueous transport of CO(2) in xylem sap on gas exchange in woody plants.

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  • 1Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, Darwin Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JU, U.K.


The influence of CO(2) transported in the transpiration stream on measurements of leaf photosynthesis and stem respiration was investigated. Measurements were made on trees in a temperate forest in Scotland and in a tropical rain forest in Cameroon, and on shrubs in the Sahelian zone in Niger. A chamber was designed to measure the CO(2) partial pressure in the gas phase within the woody stems of trees. High CO(2) partial pressures were found, ranging from 3000 to 9200 Pa. Henry's Law was used to estimate the CO(2) concentration of xylem sap, assuming that it was in equilibrium with the measured gas phase partial pressures. The transport of CO(2) in the xylem sap was calculated by multiplying sap CO(2) concentration by transpiration rate. The magnitude of aqueous transport in the studied species ranged from 0.03 to 0.35 &mgr;mol CO(2) m(-2) s(-1), representing 0.5 to 7.1% of typical leaf photosynthetic rates. These values strongly depend on sap pH. To examine the influence of aqueous transport of CO(2) on stem gas exchange, we made simultaneous measurements of stem CO(2) efflux and sap flow on the same stem. After removing the effect of temperature, stem CO(2) efflux was positively related to sap flow. The apparent effect on measurements of stem respiration was up to 0.7 &mgr;mol m(-2) s(-1), representing ~12% of peak stem respiration rates.

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