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Vulnerability to cavitation in Olea europaea current-year shoots: further evidence of an open-vessel artifact associated with centrifuge and air-injection techniques

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Abstract

Different methods have been devised to analyze vulnerability to cavitation of plants. Although a good agreement between them is usually found, some discrepancies have been reported when measuring samples from long-vesseled species. The aim of this study was to evaluate possible artifacts derived from different methods and sample sizes. Current-year shoot segments of mature olive trees (Olea europaea), a long-vesseled species, were used to generate vulnerability curves (VCs) by bench dehydration, pressure collar and both static- and flow-centrifuge methods. For the latter, two different rotors were used to test possible effects of the rotor design on the curves. Indeed, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) images were used to evaluate the functional status of xylem at different water potentials. Measurements of native embolism were used to validate the methods used. The pressure collar and the two centrifugal methods showed greater vulnerability to cavitation than the dehydration method. The shift in vulnerability thresholds in centrifuge methods was more pronounced in shorter samples, supporting the open-vessel artifact hypothesis as a higher proportion of vessels were open in short samples. The two different rotor designs used for the flow-centrifuge method revealed similar vulnerability to cavitation. Only the bench dehydration or HRCT methods produced VCs that agreed with native levels of embolism and water potential values measured in the field.

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