Cavitation of intercellular spaces is critical to the establishment of hydraulic properties of compression wood

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When the orientation of the stems of conifers departs from the vertical, conifers form compression wood that results in restoration of verticality. Intercellular spaces are formed between tracheids in compression wood.

Cryo-SEM images of a transverse surface of the outermost annual ring on the lower side of an inclined stem of a Chamaecyparis obtusa seedling in June 2012 (15 d after the start of inclination).
Cryo-SEM images of a transverse surface of the outermost annual ring on the lower side of an inclined stem of a Chamaecyparis obtusa seedling in June 2012 (15 d after the start of inclination). Full details in Nakaba et al. 2016.

Nakaba et al. examine the presence or absence of liquid in these spaces of differentiating xylem by cryo-scanning electron microscopy. They find that intercellular spaces are initially filled with liquid and the disappearance of liquid from some of the intercellular spaces occurs during formation of secondary walls of tracheids. Cavitation of intercellular spaces would decrease hydraulic conductivity as a consequence of the induction of cavitation in neighbouring tracheids.

Reference

Satoshi Nakaba, Asami Hirai, Kayo Kudo, Yusuke Yamagishi, Kenichi Yamane, Katsushi Kuroda, Widyanto Dwi Nugroho, Peter Kitin, Ryo Funada, 2016, 'Cavitation of intercellular spaces is critical to establishment of hydraulic properties of compression wood ofChamaecyparis obtusaseedlings', Annals of Botany, vol. 117, no. 3, pp. 457-463 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcv195


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