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Revealing catastrophic failure of leaf networks under stress


Brodribb, TJ and BienaimA, D and Marmottant, P, Revealing catastrophic failure of leaf networks under stress, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, (17) pp. 4865-4869. ISSN 0027-8424 (2016) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2016 National Academy of Sciences

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1522569113


The intricate patterns of veins that adorn the leaves of land plants are among the most important networks in biology. Water flows in these leaf irrigation networks under tension and is vulnerable to embolismforming cavitations, which cut off water supply, ultimately causing leaf death. Understanding the ways in which plants structure their vein supply network to protect against embolism-induced failure has enormous ecological and evolutionary implications, but until now there has been no way of observing dynamic failure in natural leaf networks. Herewe use a newoptical method that allows the initiation and spread of embolism bubbles in the leaf network to be visualized. Examining embolism-induced failure of architecturally diverse leaf networks, we found that conservative rules described the progression of hydraulic failure within veins. The most fundamental rule was that within an individual venation network, susceptibility to embolism always increased proportionally with the size of veins, and initial nucleation always occurred in the largest vein. Beyond this general framework, considerable diversity in the pattern of network failure was found between species, related to differences in vein network topology. The highest-risk networkwas found in a fern species, where single events caused massive disruption to leaf water supply, whereas safer networks in angiosperm leaves contained veins with composite properties, allowing a staged failure of water supply. These results reveal how the size structure of leaf venation is a critical determinant of the spread of embolism damage to leaves during drought.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:embolism, drought, xylem, vein, leaf
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 environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
UTAS Author:Marmottant, P (Dr Philippe Marmottant)
ID Code:112462
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP140100666)
Web of Science® Times Cited:114
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2016-11-11
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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