Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2022, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (4): 440-450.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2021.0186

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Adaptation of xylem structure and function of three gymnosperms to different habitats

HAN Xu-Li1, ZHAO Ming-Shui2, WANG Zhong-Yuan1, YE Lin-Feng1, LU Shi-Tong1, CHEN Sen1, LI Yan1,3, XIE Jiang-Bo1,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Silviculture, College of Forestry and Biotechnology, Zhejiang A&F University, Hangzhou 311300, China
    2Management Bureau of Tianmu Mountain National Nature Reserve, Hangzhou 311300, China
    3State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ürümqi 830011, China
  • Received:2021-05-17 Accepted:2021-11-24 Online:2022-04-20 Published:2022-02-16
  • Contact: XIE Jiang-Bo
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(31901280);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31770651);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41730638)


Aims Habitat difference is one of the important factors affecting plant growth and development. Plant xylem hydraulic system is the main pathway of soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, which directly affects the basic behavior and function of plants and reflects the adaptability of plants to environmental changes. In the current study, the differences of xylem hydraulic function, mechanical and anatomical structure traits of three gymnosperm species in Tianmu Mountain, Zhejiang Province in different habitats (field habitat and garden habitat) were compared to reveal the adaptive mechanism of gymnosperm to different habitats.

Methods We measured and compared hydraulic safety trait (water potential at 50% loss of conductivity), hydraulic efficiency (specific hydraulic conductivity) and xylem anatomy, between field and garden plants of Pseudolarix amabilis, Cunninghamia lanceolata and Cedrus deodara.

Important findings 1) For all tree species, their hydraulic efficiency in garden habitats are lower than that of field habitats, but the embolism resistances are stronger, owing to the complexity of species adaptation strategies. 2) No matter in field or garden habitats, there was efficiency-safety trade-off in the xylem water diversion system in Cedrus deodara, but there is no efficiency-safety trade-off in hydraulic system of P. amabilis and Cunninghamia lanceolata. 3) There is a trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and mechanical strength in the xylem of P. amabilisand Cedrus deodara in garden habitat. Compared with garden habitats, in field habitats with low soil moisture availability, plants increased pit membrane diameter to improve hydraulic efficiency. In addition, in field habitat, the threat of embolism to plants could be avoided by increased wood density and expanding tracheid diameter.

Key words: cavitation resistance, hydraulic efficiency, mechanical strength, xylem anatomy, efficiency-safety trade-off