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Xylem function and growth rate interact to determine recovery rates after exposure to extreme water deficit

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 04:40 authored by Timothy BrodribbTimothy Brodribb, David BowmanDavid Bowman, Nichols, S, Delzon, S, Burlett, R
• Motivated by the urgent need to understand how water stress-induced embolism limits the survival and recovery of plants during drought, the linkage between water-stress tolerance and xylem cavitation resistance was examined in one of the world’s most drought resistant conifer genera, Callitris. • Four species were subjected to drought treatments of )5, )8 and )10 MPa for a period of 3–4 wk, after which plants were rewatered. Transpiration, basal growth and leaf water potential were monitored during and after drought. • Lethal water potential was correlated with the tension producing a 50% loss of stem hydraulic conductivity. The most resilient species suffered minimal embolism and recovered gas exchange within days of rewatering from )10 MPa, while the most sensitive species suffered major embolism and recovered very slowly. The rate of repair of water transport in the latter case was equal to the rate of basal area growth, indicating xylem reiteration as the primary means of hydraulic repair. • The survival of, and recovery from, water stress in Callitris are accurately predicted by the physiology of the stem water-transport system. As the only apparent means of xylem repair after embolism, basal area growth is a critical part of this equation.


Publication title

New Phytologist








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

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The definitive published version is available online at:

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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