Evaluation of a new centrifuge technique for rapid generation of xylem vulnerability curves


  • Edited by D. Campbell

*e-mail: cochard@clermont.inra.fr


A new technique for generating xylem cavitation and vulnerability curves was evaluated. The centrifugal force was used to lower the negative pressure in a xylem segment and to induce a positive pressure difference between sample's ends. This enabled the determination of sample hydraulic conductance during centrifugation and, hence, its variation with decreasing xylem pressures. The centrifuge technique was compared with standard methods on a large number of species including conifers, diffuse-porous and ring-porous woody angiosperms. A very good agreement was found for coniferous and diffuse-porous species. However, the technique was not appropriate for ring-porous species, probably because many vessels were cut open in the centrifuged xylem segments. The main advantage of this technique is its rapidity, the vulnerability curve of a xylem segment being constructed typically in less than half an hour. This will greatly facilitate the study of xylem cavitation in ecological or genetic researches.