How Aridity Drove Plants to Deal with Air in their ‘Veins’ – #365papers – 2017 – 95

#365papers for April 5, 2017

Larter, Pfautsch, Domec, Trueba, Nagalingum and Delzon, 2017, Aridity drove the evolution of extremem embolism resistance and the radiation of the conifer genus Callitris: New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph.14545

What’s it about?

Callitris is a conifer (evergreen) that lives in Australia. Many members of this genus live in highly arid areas and have to cope with long dry spells. These dry spells can result in air being drawn into the xylem (water conducting channels) of the trees. Just like in humans, air bubbles in the xylem (or air in our blood vessels) can be fatal. In both cases, an air bubble is called an embolism

It turns out that there is a relationship between a tree’s ability to resist embolisms and the history of the tree’s ancestors. Trees whose ancestors grew in more arid environments have greater resistance to embolisms.

Why does it matter?

One can now explain the pattern of embolism resistance in the different members of the genus Callitris based not so much on the current environments in which they grow, but on where the trees’ ancestors grew.

Why did I read this?

It popped up on a friend’s news feed, so I decided to read it. A lot of the methods applied here were foreign to me, but it never hurts to expand your knowledge a bit, right?


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