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Visual quantification of embolism reveals leaf vulnerability to hydraulic failure


Brodribb, TJ and Skelton, RP and McAdam, SAM and Bienaime, D and Lucani, CJ and Marmottant, P, Visual quantification of embolism reveals leaf vulnerability to hydraulic failure, New Phytologist, 209, (4) pp. 1403-1409. ISSN 0028-646X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.13846


  • Vascular plant mortality during drought has been strongly linked to a failure of the internal water transport system caused by the rapid invasion of air and subsequent blockage of xylem conduits. Quantification of this critical process is greatly complicated by the existence of high water tension in xylem cells making them prone to embolism during experimental manipulation.

  • Here we describe a simple new optical method that can be used to record spatial and temporal patterns of embolism formation in the veins of water-stressed leaves for the first time.

  • Applying this technique in four diverse angiosperm species we found very strong agreement between the dynamics of embolism formation during desiccation and decline of leaf hydraulic conductance.

  • These data connect the failure of the leaf water transport network under drought stress to embolism formation in the leaf xylem, and suggest embolism occurs after stomatal closure under extreme water stress.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cavitation, drought, leaf hydraulic, optical, stomata, water stress, xylem
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
UTAS Author:Skelton, RP (Mr Robert Skelton)
UTAS Author:McAdam, SAM (Dr Scott McAdam)
UTAS Author:Lucani, CJ (Mr Christopher Lucani)
ID Code:109121
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:143
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2016-05-25
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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