Induction of embolism in xylem conduits of pre-defined diameter

W. van Ieperen, J. Nijsse, C.J. Keijzer, U. van Meeteren

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31 Citations (Scopus)


A new method is presented that enables the induction of embolisms in a fraction of all xylem vessels, based on diameter, at one cut end of a stem segment. The method is based on the different capillary characteristic of xylem vessels of different cross-sectional size. To verify the method, air embolisms were induced in cut xylem vessels of chrysanthemum (Dendranthemaxgrandiflorum Tzvelev cv. Cassa) stem segments at different xylem tensions and compared with the distribution of gas-filled vessels as visualized by cryo-scanning electron microscopy (Cryo-SEM). At -6 kPa xylem pressure, air-entrance was only induced in large diameter vessels (>30 ?m), while at -24 kPa embolisms were induced in almost all xylem vessels (>10 ?m). Although the principle of the embolization method worked well, smaller diameter vessels were observed to be embolized than was expected according to the calculations. The role of cross-sectional shape and contact angle between xylem sap and vessel wall at the menisci are discussed. After correction for the observed (diameter independent) deviation from circularity of the cross-sectional vessel shape the contact angle was calculated to be approximately 55°. Hydraulic resistance (Rh) measurements before and after embolization showed that the effect of embolizing only large diameter cut xylem vessels had only a small influence on overall Rh of a stem segment. Embolizing all cut xylem vessels at one cut end almost trebled overall Rh. The difference was discussed in the light of the networking capacity of the xylem system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-991
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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