Relationship between duration of cell differentiation and xylem traits

Secondary growth is a process related to the formation of new cells that increase in size and wall thickness during xylogenesis. Temporal dynamics of wood formation influence cell traits, in turn affecting cell patterns across the tree ring. Buttò et al. verified the hypothesis that cell diameter and cell wall thickness are positively correlated with the duration of their differentiation phases.

A stylised graph

At all sites, larger cell diameters and cell wall thicknesses were observed in cells that experienced a longer period of differentiation. The relationship was a non-linear, decreasing trend that occasionally resulted in a clear asymptote. Overall, secondary wall deposition lasted longer than cell enlargement. Earlywood cells underwent an enlargement phase that lasted for 12 d on average, while secondary wall thickness lasted 15 d. Enlargement in latewood cells averaged 7 d and secondary wall deposition occurred over an average of 27 d.

Cell size across the tree ring is closely connected to the temporal dynamics of cell formation. Similar relationships were observed among the five study sites, indicating shared xylem formation dynamics across the entire latitudinal distribution of the species.The duration of cell differentiation is a key factor involved in cell growth and wall thickening of xylem, thereby determining the spatial variation of cell traits across the tree ring.

Further reading

Buttò, V., Rossi, S., Deslauriers, A., & Morin, H. (2019). Is size an issue of time? Relationship between the duration of xylem development and cell traits. Annals of Botany, 123(7), 1257–1265. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz032