Xylem recovery from cavitation-induced embolism in young plants of Laurus nobilis: a possible mechanism


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Xylem recovery from cavitation-induced embolism was studied in l-yr-old twigs of Laurus mibilis L. Cavitation was induced by applying pre-established pressure differentials (AP0,1) across the pit membranes of xylem conduits. ΔP0) were 1.13, 1.75 and 2.26 MPa, corresponding to about 50, 77 und 100% of the measured leaf water potential at the rurgor loss point ΔP0,1 were obtained either by increasing xylem tensions or by applying positive pressures from outside, or by a combination of the two. The percentage loss of hydraulic conductivity (PLC) did not change, regardless of how the ΔP0–1 were obtained. This confirmed that xylem cavitation was nucleated by microbubbles from outside the vessels. Positive pressures, however, amplified (up to 75%) and sped up the xylem refilling (20 min) in comparison with that measured in unpressurized twigs (c.50% in 15 h). Twigs girdled proximally to their pressurized segment 1 nun after the desired pressure value had been reached, did not recover from embolism. The later the twigs were girdled with respect to when they were tested for PLC, the higher was their recovery from embolism, suggesting that some messenger was transported in the phloem which stimulated xylem refilling. Indol-3-acetic acid (1AA] applied to the exposed cortex of both pressurized and unpressurized twigs, induced an almost complete recovery from PLC. We hypothesize that the refilling of cavitated xylem might be a result of an auxin-induced increase in the phloem loading with solutes. This would cause radial transport of solutes to cavitated xylem conduits via the rays, thus decreasing their osmotic potential and making them refill. No positive xylem pressure potentials were measured during xylem recovery from PLC.