Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (3): 300-308.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0029

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles    

Research progress in the effects of leaf hydraulic characteristics on plant physiological functions

GONG Rong1,2, GAO Qiong1,2,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2014-10-11 Accepted:2014-12-17 Online:2015-03-17 Published:2015-03-01
  • Contact: Qiong GAO
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


Leaf is the main organ for plant photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration. Earlier studies mainly focused on water transportation pathway in leaves, but leaf vein architecture and its ecological significance have been rarely studied. Recently, studies of leaf vein architecture, functions of stomatal structure, and leaf hydraulic characteristics have become major focuses of plant ecological research. This paper reviews the index of leaf vein architectural traits (i.e., vein density, diameter, and distance between veins), the influence of leaf hydraulic characteristic on plant functions such as growth, water transportation, gas exchange, and the relationship between leaf hydraulic conductance and drought adaptability for plants. Leaf vein architecture is the foundation of leaf physiological functions, and future studies should explore various types of relationships between plant leaf vein architectural traits and functional characteristics such as hydraulic conductance, photosynthesis, and respiration. Future research might also aim at development of stem-branch-leaf continuum model to explore ecophysiological mechanisms of plant functional structures and efficiency of water transportation, and to assess the adaptation of plants to the future climate scenarios.

Key words: leaf vein architecture, hydraulic conductance, drought adaptability, physiological function, physiological ecology mechanism

Table 1

An index system for leaf venation functional traits"

Index of leaf vein structure
Vein system function
Vein diameter
机械支持 Mechanical support (+)
物质运输 Matter transport (+)
虫害防御 Defense of insect damage (+)
导水率 Hydraulic conductance (+)
栓塞脆弱性 Vulnerable to embolism (-)
Vein density
物质运输 Matter transport (+)
机械支持 Mechanical support (+)
虫害防御 Defense of insect damage (+)
气孔密度 Stomatal density (+)
气孔导度 Stomatal conductance (+)
导水率 Hydraulic conductance (+)
气体交换速率 Rate of gas exchange (+)
抗旱能力 Tolerance of drought (+)
叶脉网络构建成本 Costs to venation networks (-)
Loopiness of veins
导水路径 Water pathways (+)
虫害防御 Defense of insect damage (+)
Distance between veins
物质运输 Matter transport (-)
碳、水通量 carbon and water fluxes (-)
Vein hierarchy
次脉密度 Minor vein density (+)
叶脉网络构建成本 Costs to venation networks (+)
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