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Visual and hydraulic techniques produce similar estimates of cavitation resistance in woody species


Gauthey, A and Peters, JMR and Carins-Murphy, MR and Rodriguez-Dominguez, CM and Li, X and Delzon, S and King, A and Lopez, R and Medlyn, BE and Tissue, DT and Brodribb, TJ and Choat, B, Visual and hydraulic techniques produce similar estimates of cavitation resistance in woody species, New Phytologist pp. 1-14. ISSN 0028-646X (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.16746


  • Hydraulic failure of the plant vascular system is a principal cause of forest die‐off under drought. Accurate quantification of this process is essential to our understanding of the physiological mechanisms underpinning plant mortality. Imaging techniques increasingly are applied to estimate xylem cavitation resistance. These techniques allow for in situ measurement of embolism formation in real time, although the benefits and trade‐offs associated with different techniques have not been evaluated in detail.
  • Here we compare two imaging methods, microcomputed tomography (microCT) and optical vulnerability (OV), to standard hydraulic methods for measurement of cavitation resistance in seven woody species representing a diversity of major phylogenetic and xylem anatomical groups.
  • Across the seven species, there was strong agreement between cavitation resistance values (P50) estimated from visualization techniques (microCT and OV) and between visual techniques and hydraulic techniques.
  • The results indicate that visual techniques provide accurate estimates of cavitation resistance and the degree to which xylem hydraulic function is impacted by embolism. Results are discussed in the context of trade‐offs associated with each technique and possible causes of discrepancy between estimates of cavitation resistance provided by visual and hydraulic techniques.

    Item Details

    Item Type:Refereed Article
    Keywords:cavitation, hydraulic, methods, optical, stem
    Research Division:Biological Sciences
    Research Group:Ecology
    Research Field:Ecological physiology
    Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
    Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
    Objective Field:Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)
    UTAS Author:Carins-Murphy, MR (Miss Madeline Carins-Murphy)
    UTAS Author:Rodriguez-Dominguez, CM (Dr Celia Rodriguez Dominguez)
    UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
    ID Code:140360
    Year Published:2020
    Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP170100761)
    Web of Science® Times Cited:26
    Deposited By:Austn Centre for Research in Separation Science
    Deposited On:2020-08-10
    Last Modified:2020-09-02

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