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    Different methods of measuring cavitation resistance in fern petioles lead to variable results, particularly with respect to the P50 metric. We hypothesised that the fern dictyostele structure affects air entry into the xylem, and therefore impacts the shape of the vulnerability curve. Our study examined this variation by comparing vulnerability curves constructed on petioles collected from evergreen and deciduous ferns in the field, with curves generated using the standard centrifuge, air-injection and bench-top dehydration methods. Additional experiments complemented the vulnerability curves to better understand how anatomy shapes estimates of cavitation resistance. Centrifugation and radial air injection generated acceptable vulnerability curves for the deciduous species, but overestimated drought resistance in the two evergreen ferns. In these hardy plants, axial air injection and bench-top dehydration produced results that most closely aligned with observations in nature. Additional experiments revealed that the dictyostele anatomy impedes air entry into the xylem during spinning and radial air injection. Each method produced acceptable vulnerability curves, depending on the species being tested. Therefore, we stress the importance of validating the curves with in situ measures of water potential and, if possible, hydraulic data to generate realistic results with any of the methods currently available. © 2021 The Authors New Phytologist © 2021 New Phytologist Foundation.


    Jarmila Pittermann, Alex Baer, Ying Sang. Primary tissues may affect estimates of cavitation resistance in ferns. The New phytologist. 2021 Jul;231(1):285-296

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    PMID: 33786827

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