University Of Tasmania
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Leaf hydraulic capacity in ferns, conifers and angiosperms: impacts on photosynthetic maxima

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posted on 2023-05-16, 17:27 authored by Timothy BrodribbTimothy Brodribb, Holbrook, NM, Zwieniecki, MA, Palma, B
• The hydraulic plumbing of vascular plant leaves varies considerably between major plant groups both in the spatial organization of veins, as well as their anatomical structure. • Five conifers, three ferns and 12 angiosperm trees were selected from tropical and temperate forests to investigate whether the profound differences in foliar morphology of these groups lead to correspondingly profound differences in leaf hydraulic efficiency. • We found that angiosperm leaves spanned a range of leaf hydraulic conductance from 3.9 to 36 mmol m 2 s -1 MPa -1, whereas ferns (5.9-11.4 mmol m -2 s -1 MPa -1) and conifers (1.6-9.0 mmol m -2 s -1 MPa -1) were uniformly less conductive to liquid water. Leaf hydraulic conductance (K leaf) correlated strongly with stomatal conductance indicating an internal leaf-level regulation of liquid and vapour conductances. Photosynthetic capacity also increased with K leaf, however, it became saturated at values of K leaf over 20 mmol m -2 s -1 MPa -1. • The data suggest that vessels in the leaves of the angiosperms studied provide them with the flexibility to produce highly conductive leaves with correspondingly high photosynthetic capacities relative to tracheid-bearing species. © New Phytologist (2004).


Publication title

New Phytologist








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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