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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 32(10)

Hydraulic efficiency of the leaf venation system in sun- and shade-adapted species

Andrea Nardini A B, Emmanuelle Gortan A, Sebastiano Salleo A

A Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Trieste Via L. Giorgieri 10, 34127 Trieste, Italy.
B Corresponding author. Email: nardini@univ.trieste.it
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We tested the hypothesis that leaf hydraulics is correlated with the light adaptation of different plant species and specifically that the hydraulic resistance of the leaf venation (Rvenation) is lower in sun- than in shade-adapted species. Rvenation was measured in six sun- and six shade-adapted species with a high-pressure flow meter (HPFM). The number of conduits at the proximal third of the midrib was counted and the diameter of the widest conduits together with vein density were measured. Rvenation was higher in shade species than in sun species and it was negatively correlated with the mean diameter of the widest conduits. Maximum leaf conductance to water vapour recorded for the different species was negatively correlated with the corresponding Rvenation. Sun-adapted species coping with the high water demand typical of sunny habitats appeared to have developed a highly efficient conducting system to supply living mesophyll cells with water. In contrast, species adapted to shady habitats showed higher Rvenation values according to their lower need for investment of carbon into producing wide conduits in the leaf.

Keywords: conduit diameter, gas exchange, HPFM, hydraulic resistance, light adaptation.

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