CRAIG R. BRODERSEN, LINDSEY C. ROARK and JARMILA PITTERMANN The physiological implications of primary xylem organization in two ferns Plant, Cell & Environment 35
Xylem structure and function are well described in woody plants, but the implications of xylem organization in less derived plants such as ferns are poorly understood. Here, two ferns with contrasting phenology and xylem organization were selected to investigate how xylem dysfunction affects hydraulic conductivity and stomatal conductance. Xylem network reconstructions show how vascular organization changes through the frond and the connections between the vascular bundles act as important hydraulic pathways. Greater hydraulic connectivity and stomatal conductance promote rapid seasonal growth in Pteridium aqulinum, but come with the risk of increased vulnerability to cavitation, while the conservative xylem organization of Woodwardia fimbriata leads to slower growth but greater drought tolerance and frond longevity.
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