This article is part of the Research Topic Biology and physics of long distance transport in plants

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Plant Sci., 28 November 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00486

Contrasting xylem vessel constraints on hydraulic conductivity between native and non-native woody understory species

Maria S. Smith1, Jason D. Fridley2, Jingjing Yin1 and Taryn L. Bauerle1*
  • 1Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
  • 2Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA

We examined the hydraulic properties of 82 native and non-native woody species common to forests of Eastern North America, including several congeneric groups, representing a range of anatomical wood types. We observed smaller conduit diameters with greater frequency in non-native species, corresponding to lower calculated potential vulnerability to cavitation index. Non-native species exhibited higher vessel-grouping in metaxylem compared with native species, however, solitary vessels were more prevalent in secondary xylem. Higher frequency of solitary vessels in secondary xylem was related to a lower potential vulnerability index. We found no relationship between anatomical characteristics of xylem, origin of species and hydraulic conductivity, indicating that non-native species did not exhibit advantageous hydraulic efficiency over native species. Our results confer anatomical advantages for non-native species under the potential for cavitation due to freezing, perhaps permitting extended growing seasons.

Keywords: hydraulic conductivity, xylem anatomy, embolism vulnerability, exotic woody plants, efficiency vs. safety, vessel connectivity

Citation: Smith MS, Fridley JD, Yin J and Bauerle TL (2013) Contrasting xylem vessel constraints on hydraulic conductivity between native and non-native woody understory species. Front. Plant Sci. 4:486. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00486

Received: 05 September 2013; Accepted: 11 November 2013;
Published online: 28 November 2013.

Edited by:

Peter J. Melcher, Ithaca College, USA

Reviewed by:

Teemu Hölttä, University of Helsinki, Finland
Qing Ye, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Copyright © 2013 Smith, Fridley, Yin and Bauerle. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Taryn L. Bauerle, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, 134A Plant Sciences Building, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA e-mail:

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