Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (8): 838-848.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0080

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles    

A review of new research progress on the vulnerability of xylem embolism of woody plants

LI Rong1,*, JIANG Zai-Min2,*, ZHANG Shuo-Xin1,3, CAI Jing1,3,**()   

  1. 1College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
    2College of Life Sciences, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
    3Qinling National Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
  • Received:2015-04-09 Accepted:2015-06-30 Online:2015-08-17 Published:2015-08-01
  • Contact: Rong LI,Zai-Min JIANG,Jing CAI
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


Xylem cavitation/embolism is the blockage of xylem conduits when woody plants suffer from water stress under drought and other environmental conditions, the study of embolism has become a hot and key topic under global climate change. Recent researches on the relationship between the vulnerability of xylem embolism and hydraulic architecture/drought tolerance have made some progress, however, scholars reached different conclusions based on results from different regions or different materials. This paper reviews the current achievements and controversial viewpoints, which includes indicator of xylem embolism vulnerability (P50), method of vulnerability curve establishment, the relationship between embolism vulnerability and hydraulic architecture (vessel diameter, vessel length, pit area, wood density, fiber and fiber tracheid) and the relationship between embolism vulnerability and drought tolerance of woody plants. Future studies should use Cochard Cavitron centrifuge and Sperry centrifuge coupled with traditional methods to establish vulnerability curves, calculate P50, analyze the difference among different organisms (root, stem, leaf), and measure physiological and ecological indexes. Future studies should be aimed to explore the relationship between the vulnerability of xylem embolism and hydraulic architecture/drought tolerance and to assess drought tolerance ability of different species under future climate change.

Key words: xylem embolism, embolism vulnerability, hydraulic architecture, drought tolerance

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