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Xylem cavitation isolates leaky flowers during water stress in pyrethrum


Bourbia, I and Carins-Murphy, MR and Gracie, AJ and Brodribb, TJ, Xylem cavitation isolates leaky flowers during water stress in pyrethrum, New Phytologist, 227, (1) pp. 146-155. ISSN 0028-646X (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 The Authors. New Phytologist Copyright 2020 New Phytologist Trust

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.16516


  • Flowers underpin plant evolution, genetic legacy and global food supply. They are exposed to similar evaporative conditions as leaves, yet floral physiology is a product of different selective forces. We used Tanacetum cinerariifolium , a perennial daisy, to examine the response of flowers to whole‐plant water stress, determining if flowers constitute a liability during drought, and how this species has adapted to minimize risk associated with reproduction.
  • We determined the relative transpiration cost of flowers and leaves and confirmed that flowers in this species are xylem‐hydrated. The relative water stress tolerance of leaves and flowers then was compared using xylem vulnerability measurements linked with observed tissue damage during an acute drought treatment.
  • Flowers were a major source of water loss during drought but the xylem supplying them was much more vulnerable to cavitation than leaves. This xylem vulnerability segmentation was confirmed by observations that most flowers died whereas leaves were minimally affected during drought.
  • Early cavitation and hydraulic isolation of flowers during drought benefits the plant by slowing the dehydration of perennial vegetative organs and delaying systemic xylem damage. Our results highlight the need to understand flower xylem vulnerability as a means of predicting plant reproductive failure under future drought.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:flower hydraulic traits, hydraulic conductance, minimum conductance, vulnerability segmentation, xylem embolism
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable plant production
Objective Field:Management of water consumption by plant production
UTAS Author:Bourbia, I (Mr Ibrahim Bourbia)
UTAS Author:Carins-Murphy, MR (Miss Madeline Carins-Murphy)
UTAS Author:Gracie, AJ (Professor Alistair Gracie)
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
ID Code:138344
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2020-04-02
Last Modified:2020-07-02
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