Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 238-251.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0198

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Anatomical characteristics of xylem in tree rings and its relationship with environments

Liang-Jun ZHU1, Zong-Shan LI2, Xiao-Chun WANG1,*()   

  1. 1Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China

    2State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
  • Received:2016-06-12 Accepted:2017-01-03 Online:2017-02-10 Published:2017-03-16
  • Contact: Xiao-Chun WANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


The anatomical traits of xylem are the characteristics of tree rings at the cellular and subcellular scales, and are often reflection of environmental signals. Studying the relationships between anatomical traits of xylem and environmental change not only provide physiological explanations to the statistics in dendroclimatology, but can also provide a new vision for studying the adaptation process and response strategies of tree growth to climate change. In this paper, with the relationships between the anatomical characteristics of xylem in tree-rings (cell chronology) and climate change as a main thread, we first outline the basic principles and mechanisms of wood anatomical features to record environmental signals, and expounded the basic methods involved in the process of xylem anatomy. Secondly, we discuss the relationship between the anatomical features of xylem and climate factors. We then propose the following as possible directions of future research based on the existing knowledge gap in the topical area: (1) to explore the temporal and spatial variations in the anatomical characteristics of xylem in tree-rings along radial and tangential directions and the relationships with environmental changes; (2) to explore the threshold of tree growth response to environmental plasticity and adaptation processes; (3) to assess the synergistic and antagonistic effects as well as the formation mechanisms of climate response among different tree-ring proxies, and to determine the specific roles and contributions of major climatic factors during different periods of tree-ring formation.

Key words: cell chronologies, xylem anatomy, hydraulic architecture, global change, plastic responses, tree-ring