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Plant Physiol. 2003 Apr;131(4):1826-33.

Seasonal and perennial changes in the distribution of water in the sapwood of conifers in a sub-frigid zone.

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  • 1Laboratory of Wood Biology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan.


An analysis was made of progressive changes in patterns of cavitation in the sapwood of three species of conifer (Larix kaempferi, Abies sachalinensis, and Picea jezoensis) that were growing in a sub-frigid zone. In all three conifers, all tracheids of the newly forming outermost annual ring were filled with water or cytoplasm during the period from May to August. However, many tracheids in the transition zone from earlywood to latewood lost water in September, presumably through drought-induced cavitation. Cavitated tracheids tended to be continuously distributed in a tangential direction. Subsequently, some earlywood tracheids of the outermost annual ring lost water during the period from January to March. This was associated with freeze-thaw cycles. In the second and third annual rings from the cambium of all three conifers, the lumina of most tracheids in the transition zone from earlywood to latewood contained no water. In contrast, some latewood tracheids near the annual ring boundary and many earlywood tracheids retained water in their lumina. The third annual ring had more cavitated tracheids than the second annual ring. Our observations indicated that cavitation progressed gradually in the tracheids of the conifers and that they were never refilled once cavitation had occurred. The region involved in water transport in conifers did not include the entire sapwood and differed among annual rings.

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