TITLE

An Anatomical Assessment of Branch Abscission and Branch-base Hydraulic Architecture in the Endangered Wollemia nobilis

AUTHOR(S)
G. E. Burrows; P. F. Meagher; R. D. Heady
PUB. DATE
April 2007
SOURCE
Annals of Botany;Apr2007, Vol. 99 Issue 4, p609
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Background and Aims The branch-base xylem structure of the endangered Wollemia nobilis was anatomically investigated. Wollemia nobilis is probably the only extant tree species that produces only first-order branches and where all branches are cleanly abscised. An investigation was carried out to see if these unusual features might influence branch-base xylem structure and water supply to the foliage. Methods The xylem was sectioned at various distances along the branch bases of 6-year-old saplings. Huber values and relative theoretical hydraulic conductivities were calculated for various regions of the branch base. Key Results The most proximal branch base featured a pronounced xylem constriction. The constriction had only 14–31 % (average 21 %) of the cross-sectional area and 20–42 % (average 28 %) of the theoretical hydraulic conductivity of the more distal branch xylem. Wollemia nobilis had extremely low Huber values for a conifer. Conclusions The branch-base xylem constriction would appear to facilitate branch abscission, while the associated Huber values show that W. nobilis supplies a relatively large leaf area through a relatively small diameter ‘pipe’. It is tempting to suggest that the pronounced decline of W. nobilis in the Tertiary is related to its unusual branch-base structure but physiological studies of whole plant conductance are still needed.
ACCESSION #
27681877

 

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