Occurrence of decay-associated xylem suberization in a range of woody species


Author's address: Dr. R. B. Pearce, Oxford Forestry Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK


Suberization responses to naturally-occurring fungal colonization of living xylem tissues were detected in 30 of 37 woody species examined. These responses comprised the suberization of traumatic parenchyma tissues in compartmentalization wall 4 barrier zones laid down in the vicinity of fungally infected wounds, or the suberization of parenchyma cells, tyloses and vessel linings in reaction zone decay margins in fully differentiated sapwood. Additionally, in a few species, suberization of xylem fibres and tracheids was observed where juvenile xylem tissues, apparently still incompletely differentiated, had been exposed by wounding. These xylem suberization responses are considered to increase the decay resistance of the altered cells, and may protect the hydraulic integrity of adjacent tissue, thus contributing to the antimicrobial defence of the living sapwood.