What is it about?
Plant vascular systems (wood) performs multiple functions that affect the fitness of plants, and trade-offs are present among these functions. Wood that is able to perform one function exceptionally may necessarily perform poorly in another function. For example, wood that is mechanically strong, like oak wood, is likely to be limited in its water storage capacity. The way these different functions affect one another determines many fundamental attributes of plants, such as how tall they grow, how long they live and their ability to survive drought.
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Why is it important?
Plant vascular systems play a central role in global water and carbon cycles and drought resistance. These vascular systems perform multiple functions that affect the fitness of plants, and trade-offs are present among these functions. Some trade-offs are well established, but studies have not examined the full suite of functions of these complex systems. Here, we used a powerful multivariate method, structural equation modeling, to test hypotheses about the trade-offs that govern this vital and globally important tissue. We show that xylem traits are broadly governed by trade-offs related to transport, mechanical support, and storage, which are rooted in cellular structure, and that the level of dehydration experienced by plants in the field exerts a strong influence over these relationships.
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This page is a summary of: Trade-offs among transport, support, and storage in xylem from shrubs in a semiarid chaparral environment tested with structural equation modeling, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2104336118.
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