Most water in the tomato truss is imported through the xylem, not the phloem. An NMR flow imaging study

C.W. Windt, E. Gerkema, H. van As

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In this study, we demonstrate nuclear magnetic resonance flow imaging of xylem and phloem transport toward a developing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) truss. During an 8-week period of growth, we measured phloem and xylem fluxes in the truss stalk, aiming to distinguish the contributions of the two transport tissues and draw up a balance between influx and efflux. It is commonly estimated that about 90% of the water reaches the fruit by the phloem and the remaining 10% by the xylem. The xylem is thought to become dysfunctional at an early stage of fruit development. However, our results do not corroborate these findings. On the contrary, we found that xylem transport into the truss remained functional throughout the 8 weeks of growth. During that time, at least 75% of the net influx into the fruit occurred through the external xylem and about 25% via the perimedullary region, which contains both phloem and xylem. About one-half of the net influx was lost due to evaporation. Halfway through truss development, a xylem backflow appeared. As the truss matured, the percentage of xylem water that circulated into the truss and out again increased in comparison with the net uptake, but no net loss of water from the truss was observed. The circulation of xylem water continued even after the fruits and pedicels were removed. This indicates that neither of them was involved in generating or conducting the circulation of sap. Only when the main axis of the peduncle was cut back did the circulation stop
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-842
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • vapor-pressure deficit
  • membrane-permeability
  • transpiration flows
  • biological tissues
  • ricinus-communis
  • grape berries
  • fruit-growth
  • sap flow
  • transport
  • plants


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