As trees grow taller, hydraulic resistance can be expected to increase, causing photosynthetic productivity to decline. Yet leaves maintain productivity over vast height increases; this maintenance of productivity suggests that leaf-specific conductance remains constant as trees grow taller. Here we test the assumption of constant leaf-specific conductance with height growth and document the anatomical adjustments involved. We measured the scaling of total leaf area, mean vessel diameter at terminal twigs and at the stem base, and total vessel number in 139 individuals of Moringaoleifera of different heights, and estimated a whole-plant conductance index from these measurements. Whole-plant conductance and total leaf area scaled at the same rate with height. Congruently, whole-plant conductance and total leaf area scaled isometrically. Constant conductance is made possible by a complex adjustment in anatomy, with conduit diameters in terminal twigs becoming wider, lowering per-vessel resistance, with a concomitant decrease in vessel number per unit leaf area with height growth. Selection maintaining constant conductance per unit leaf area with height growth (or at least minimizing drops in conductance) is likely a potent selective pressure shaping plant hydraulics, and is crucially involved in the maintenance of photosynthetic productivity per leaf area across the terrestrial landscape.

Constant theoretical conductance, changes in vessel diameter and number, with height growth in Moringaoleifera

Anfodillo, Tommaso;Olson, Mark E
2019

Abstract

As trees grow taller, hydraulic resistance can be expected to increase, causing photosynthetic productivity to decline. Yet leaves maintain productivity over vast height increases; this maintenance of productivity suggests that leaf-specific conductance remains constant as trees grow taller. Here we test the assumption of constant leaf-specific conductance with height growth and document the anatomical adjustments involved. We measured the scaling of total leaf area, mean vessel diameter at terminal twigs and at the stem base, and total vessel number in 139 individuals of Moringaoleifera of different heights, and estimated a whole-plant conductance index from these measurements. Whole-plant conductance and total leaf area scaled at the same rate with height. Congruently, whole-plant conductance and total leaf area scaled isometrically. Constant conductance is made possible by a complex adjustment in anatomy, with conduit diameters in terminal twigs becoming wider, lowering per-vessel resistance, with a concomitant decrease in vessel number per unit leaf area with height growth. Selection maintaining constant conductance per unit leaf area with height growth (or at least minimizing drops in conductance) is likely a potent selective pressure shaping plant hydraulics, and is crucially involved in the maintenance of photosynthetic productivity per leaf area across the terrestrial landscape.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3306104
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