Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (4): 394-403.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0367

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of xylem anatomy and function of representative tree species in a mixed evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved forest of mid-subtropical karst region

NI Ming-Yuan, ARITSARA Amy Ny Aina, WANG Yong-Qiang, HUANG Dong-Liu, XIANG Wei, WAN Chun-Yan, ZHU Shi-Dan*()   

  1. Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Conservation, College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China; and State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-bioresources, College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China
  • Received:2020-11-09 Accepted:2021-01-18 Online:2021-04-20 Published:2021-03-09
  • Contact: ZHU Shi-Dan
  • Supported by:
    Guangxi Bagui Young Scholars Program and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi(2017GXNSFBA198188)


Aims Vessel, fibers, and parenchyma are the main components of tree xylem. They are responsible for water transport, mechanical support, and water and nutrients storage. Given the limited xylem space, consistent investment in one type of tissue would constrain the space available for other types of tissue, thus resulting in a possible trade-off among different tissues in their fractions. Analysis of the fractions of tissue types in xylem and the trade-off would contribute to better understanding of the eco-physiological adaptation of plants.

Methods We selected 21 characteristic tree species (10 deciduous and 11 evergreen) from a mixed evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved forest located in the mid-subtropical karst region, and measured their xylem tissue fractions. In addition, we calculated the hydraulic-related structural traits in xylems and examined the correlations among various traits.

Important findings Compared to the global average values of xylem tissue fractions, the karst tree species tended to have a higher proportion of parenchyma. The fraction of vessel lumen was not correlated with fiber and parenchyma fractions across the tree species investigated. Instead, a significant trade-off was observed between fractions of fiber and parenchyma. A trade-off between the hydraulic efficiency (i.e. theoretical hydraulic conductivity) and safety (vessel wall reinforcement) was observed across both the deciduous and the evergreen tree species. The two contrasting group of karst trees differenced significantly in the intercepts of the lines for trade-offs. For given conductivity, the deciduous tree species exhibited stronger vessel well reinforcement (safety) than the evergreen tree species, which might be due to the fact that evergreen trees species had more axial parenchyma. Hence, this study revealed the specificity of xylem anatomy in karst tree species. Water and resource storage in xylem parenchyma are vital to karst trees (evergreens in particular) for their adaptation to the water-limiting environment.

Key words: vessel, parenchyma, fibers, vessel wall reinforcement coefficient, theoretical hydraulic conductivity, trade-off