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Tree Physiol. 2007 Aug;27(8):1165-78.

Hydraulic and mechanical properties of young Norway spruce clones related to growth and wood structure.

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  • 1Institute of Botany, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, BOKU Vienna, Gregor Mendel-Str. 33, A-1180 Vienna, Austria. sabine.rosner@boku.ac.at

Abstract

Stem segments of eight five-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) clones differing in growth characteristics were tested for maximum specific hydraulic conductivity (k(s100)), vulnerability to cavitation and behavior under mechanical stress. The vulnerability of the clones to cavitation was assessed by measuring the applied air pressure required to cause 12 and 50% loss of conductivity (Psi(12), Psi(50)) and the percent loss of conductivity at 4 MPa applied air pressure (PLC(4MPa)). The bending strength and stiffness and the axial compression strength and stiffness of the same stem segments were measured to characterize wood mechanical properties. Growth ring width, wood density, latewood percentage, lumen diameter, cell wall thickness, tracheid length and pit dimensions of earlywood cells, spiral grain and microfibril angles were examined to identify structure-function relationships. High k(s100) was strongly and positively related to spiral grain angle, which corresponded positively to tracheid length and pit dimensions. Spiral grain may reduce flow resistance of the bordered pits of the first earlywood tracheids, which are characterized by rounded tips and an equal distribution of pits along the entire length. Wood density was unrelated to hydraulic vulnerability parameters. Traits associated with higher hydraulic vulnerability were long tracheids, high latewood percentage and thick earlywood cell walls. The positive relationship between earlywood cell wall thickness and vulnerability to cavitation suggest that air seeding through the margo of bordered pits may occur in earlywood. There was a positive phenotypic and genotypic relationship between k(s100) and PLC(4MPa), and both parameters were positively related to tree growth rate. Variability in mechanical properties depended mostly on wood density, but also on the amount of compression wood. Accordingly, hydraulic conductivity and mechanical strength or stiffness showed no tradeoff.

PMID:
17472942
PMCID:
PMC3197722
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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