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1.  Effect of Local Heating and Cooling on Cambial Activity and Cell Differentiation in the Stem of Norway Spruce (Picea abies) 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(6):943-951.
• Background and Aims The effect of heating and cooling on cambial activity and cell differentiation in part of the stem of Norway spruce (Picea abies) was investigated.
• Methods A heating experiment (23–25 °C) was carried out in spring, before normal reactivation of the cambium, and cooling (9–11 °C) at the height of cambial activity in summer. The cambium, xylem and phloem were investigated by means of light- and transmission electron microscopy and UV-microspectrophotometry in tissues sampled from living trees.
• Key Results Localized heating for 10 d initiated cambial divisions on the phloem side and after 20 d also on the xylem side. In a control tree, regular cambial activity started after 30 d. In the heat-treated sample, up to 15 earlywood cells undergoing differentiation were found to be present. The response of the cambium to stem cooling was less pronounced, and no anatomical differences were detected between the control and cool-treated samples after 10 or 20 d. After 30 d, latewood started to form in the sample exposed to cooling. In addition, almost no radially expanding tracheids were observed and the cambium consisted of only five layers of cells. Low temperatures reduced cambial activity, as indicated by the decreased proportion of latewood. On the phloem side, no alterations were observed among cool-treated and non-treated samples.
• Conclusions Heating and cooling can influence cambial activity and cell differentiation in Norway spruce. However, at the ultrastructural and topochemical levels, no changes were observed in the pattern of secondary cell-wall formation and lignification or in lignin structure, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2803384  PMID: 16613904
Norway spruce; Picea abies; cambium; xylem; phloem; cell differentiation; heating; cooling; light microscopy; transmission electron microscopy; UV-microspectrophotometry
2.  Cambial Activity and Intra-annual Xylem Formation in Roots and Stems of Abies balsamea and Picea mariana 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(5):667-674.
Background and Aims
Studies on xylogenesis focus essentially on the stem, whereas there is basically no information about the intra-annual growth of other parts of the tree. As roots strongly influence carbon allocation and tree development, knowledge of the dynamics of xylem production and maturation in roots at a short time scale is required for a better understanding of the phenomenon of tree growth. This study compared cambial activity and xylem formation in stem and roots in two conifers of the boreal forest in Canada.
Wood microcores were collected weekly in stem and roots of ten Abies balsamea and ten Picea mariana during the 2004–2006 growing seasons. Cross-sections were cut using a rotary microtome, stained with cresyl violet acetate and observed under visible and polarized light. The number of cells in the cambial zone and in differentiation, plus the number of mature cells, was counted along the developing xylem.
Key Results
Xylem formation lasted from the end of May to the end of September, with no difference between stem and roots in 2004–2005. On the contrary, in 2006 a 1-week earlier beginning of cell differentiation was observed in the stem, with cell wall thickening and lignification in roots ending up to 22 d later than in the stem. Cell production in the stem was concentrated early in the season, in June, while most cell divisions in roots occurred 1 month later.
The intra-annual dynamics of growth observed in stem and roots could be related to the different amount of cells produced by the cambium and the patterns of air and soil temperature occurring in spring.
PMCID: PMC2712372  PMID: 18708643
Abies balsamea; boreal forest; cambium; cell differentiation; cell wall thickening; lignification; Picea mariana; root; stem; xylem
3.  A rapid decrease in temperature induces latewood formation in artificially reactivated cambium of conifer stems 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(4):875-885.
Background and Aims
Latewood formation in conifers occurs during the later part of the growing season, when the cell division activity of the cambium declines. Changes in temperature might be important for wood formation in trees. Therefore, the effects of a rapid decrease in temperature on cellular morphology of tracheids were investigated in localized heating-induced cambial reactivation in Cryptomeria japonica trees and in Abies firma seedlings.
Electric heating tape and heating ribbon were wrapped on the stems of C. japonica trees and A. firma seedlings. Heating was discontinued when 11 or 12 and eight or nine radial files of differentiating and differentiated tracheids had been produced in C. japonica and A. firma stems, respectively. Tracheid diameter, cell wall thickness, percentage of cell wall area and percentage of lumen area were determined by image analysis of transverse sections and scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
Localized heating induced earlier cambial reactivation and xylem differentiation in stems of C. japonica and A. firma as compared with non-heated stems. One week after cessation of heating, there were no obvious changes in the dimensions of the differentiating tracheids in the samples from adult C. japonica. In contrast, tracheids with a smaller diameter were observed in A. firma seedlings after 1 week of cessation of heating. Two or three weeks after cessation of heating, tracheids with reduced diameters and thickened cell walls were found. The results showed that the rapid decrease in temperature produced slender tracheids with obvious thickening of cell walls that resembled latewood cells.
The results suggest that a localized decrease in temperature of stems induces changes in the diameter and cell wall thickness of differentiating tracheids, indicating that cambium and its derivatives can respond directly to changes in temperature.
PMCID: PMC3423807  PMID: 22843340
Cambial activity; conifers; latewood formation; morphology of tracheids; rapid decrease in temperature
4.  Cambial activity related to tree size in a mature silver-fir plantation 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(3):429-438.
Background and Aims
Our knowledge about the influences of environmental factors on tree growth is principally based on the study of dominant trees. However, tree social status may influence intra-annual dynamics of growth, leading to differential responses to environmental conditions. The aim was to determine whether within-stand differences in stem diameters of trees belonging to different crown classes resulted from variations in the length of the growing period or in the rate of cell production.
Cambial activity was monitored weekly in 2006 for three crown classes in a 40-year-old silver-fir (Abies alba) plantation near Nancy (France). Timings, duration and rate of tracheid production were assessed from anatomical observations of the developing xylem.
Key Results
Cambial activity started earlier, stopped later and lasted longer in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. The onset of cambial activity was estimated to have taken 3 weeks to spread to 90 % of the trees in the stand, while the cessation needed 6 weeks. Cambial activity was more intense in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. It was estimated that about 75 % of tree-ring width variability was attributable to the rate of cell production and only 25 % to its duration. Moreover, growth duration was correlated to tree height, while growth rate was better correlated to crown area.
These results show that, in a closed conifer forest, stem diameter variations resulted principally from differences in the rate of xylem cell production rather than in its duration. Tree size interacts with environmental factors to control the timings, duration and rate of cambial activity through functional processes involving source–sink relationships principally, but also hormonal controls.
PMCID: PMC3158687  PMID: 21816842
Cambial activity; forest-stand structure; silver fir (Abies alba); tree-ring formation; tree-to-tree competition; social status; wood anatomy; xylem cell differentiation
5.  Hydraulic and mechanical properties of young Norway spruce clones related to growth and wood structure 
Tree physiology  2007;27(8):1165-1178.
Stem segments of eight five-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) clones differing in growth characteristics were tested for maximum specific hydraulic conductivity (ks100), vulnerability to cavitation and behavior under mechanical stress. The vulnerability of the clones to cavitation was assessed by measuring the applied air pressure required to cause 12 and 50% loss of conductivity (Ψ12, Ψ50) and the percent loss of conductivity at 4 MPa applied air pressure (PLC4MPa). The bending strength and stiffness and the axial compression strength and stiffness of the same stem segments were measured to characterize wood mechanical properties. Growth ring width, wood density, latewood percentage, lumen diameter, cell wall thickness, tracheid length and pit dimensions of earlywood cells, spiral grain and microfibril angles were examined to identify structure–function relationships. High ks100 was strongly and positively related to spiral grain angle, which corresponded positively to tracheid length and pit dimensions. Spiral grain may reduce flow resistance of the bordered pits of the first earlywood tracheids, which are characterized by rounded tips and an equal distribution of pits along the entire length. Wood density was unrelated to hydraulic vulnerability parameters. Traits associated with higher hydraulic vulnerability were long tracheids, high latewood percentage and thick earlywood cell walls. The positive relationship between earlywood cell wall thickness and vulnerability to cavitation suggest that air seeding through the margo of bordered pits may occur in earlywood. There was a positive phenotypic and genotypic relationship between ks100 and PLC4MPa, and both parameters were positively related to tree growth rate. Variability in mechanical properties depended mostly on wood density, but also on the amount of compression wood. Accordingly, hydraulic conductivity and mechanical strength or stiffness showed no tradeoff.
PMCID: PMC3197722  PMID: 17472942
biomechanics; functional anatomy; hydraulic conductivity; Picea abies; tradeoffs; vulnerability to cavitation
6.  Induction of Cambial Reactivation by Localized Heating in a Deciduous Hardwood Hybrid Poplar (Populus sieboldii × P. grandidentata) 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(3):439-447.
Background and Aims
The timing of cambial reactivation plays an important role in the control of both the quantity and the quality of wood. The effect of localized heating on cambial reactivation in the main stem of a deciduous hardwood hybrid poplar (Populus sieboldii × P. grandidentata) was investigated.
Electric heating tape (20–22 °C) was wrapped at one side of the main stem of cloned hybrid poplar trees at breast height in winter. Small blocks were collected from both heated and non-heated control portions of the stem for sequential observations of cambial activity and for studies of the localization of storage starch around the cambium from dormancy to reactivation by light microscopy.
Key Results
Cell division in phloem began earlier than cambial reactivation in locally heated portions of stems. Moreover, the cambial reactivation induced by localized heating occurred earlier than natural cambial reactivation. In heated stems, well-developed secondary xylem was produced that had almost the same structure as the natural xylem. When cambial reactivation was induced by heating, the buds of trees had not yet burst, indicating that there was no close temporal relationship between bud burst and cambial reactivation. In heated stems, the amount of storage starch decreased near the cambium upon reactivation of the cambium. After cambial reactivation, storage starch disappeared completely. Storage starch appeared again, near the cambium, during xylem differentiation in heated stems.
The results suggest that, in deciduous diffuse-porous hardwood poplar growing in a temperate zone, the temperature in the stem is a limiting factor for reactivation of phloem and cambium. An increase in temperature might induce the conversion of storage starch to sucrose for the activation of cambial cell division and secondary xylem. Localized heating in poplar stems provides a useful experimental system for studies of cambial biology.
PMCID: PMC2533603  PMID: 17621596
Populus sieboldii × Populus grandidentata; localized heating, cambial reactivation; model system; storage starch; xylem differentiation
7.  Changes in the localization and levels of starch and lipids in cambium and phloem during cambial reactivation by artificial heating of main stems of Cryptomeria japonica trees 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(6):885-895.
Background and Aims
Cambial reactivation in trees occurs from late winter to early spring when photosynthesis is minimal or almost non-existent. Reserve materials might be important for wood formation in trees. The localization and approximate levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) and number of starch granules in cambium and phloem were examined from cambial dormancy to the start of xylem differentiation in locally heated stems of Cryptomeria japonica trees in winter.
Electric heating tape was wrapped on one side of the stem of Cryptomeria japonica trees at breast height in winter. The localization and approximate levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) and number of starch granules were determined by image analysis of optical digital images obtained by confocal laser scanning microscopy.
Key Results
Localized heating induced earlier cambial reactivation and xylem differentiation in stems of Cryptomeria japonica, as compared with non-heated stems. There were clear changes in the respective localizations and levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) determined in terms of relative areas on images, from cambial dormancy to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems. In heated stems, the levels and number of starch granules fell from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation. There was a significant decrease in the relative area occupied by lipid droplets in the cambium from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems.
The results showed clearly that the levels and number of storage starch granules in cambium and phloem cells and levels of lipids (as droplets) in the cambium decreased from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems during the winter. The observations suggest that starch and lipid droplets might be needed as sources of energy for the initiation of cambial cell division and the differentiation of xylem in Cryptomeria japonica.
PMCID: PMC2990657  PMID: 21037242
Cambial reactivation; confocal laser scanning microscopy; Cryptomeria japonica; lipid; starch; xylem differentiation
8.  Hydraulic efficiency compromises compression strength perpendicular to the grain in Norway spruce trunkwood 
Trees (Berlin, Germany : West)  2011;25(2):289-299.
The aim of this study was to investigate bending stiffness and compression strength perpendicular to the grain of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) trunkwood with different anatomical and hydraulic properties. Hydraulically less safe mature sapwood had bigger hydraulic lumen diameters and higher specific hydraulic conductivities than hydraulically safer juvenile wood. Bending stiffness (MOE) was higher, whereas radial compression strength lower in mature than in juvenile wood. A density-based tradeoff between MOE and hydraulic efficiency was apparent in mature wood only. Across cambial age, bending stiffness did not compromise hydraulic efficiency due to variation in latewood percent and because of the structural demands of the tree top (e.g. high flexibility). Radial compression strength compromised, however, hydraulic efficiency because it was extremely dependent on the characteristics of the “weakest” wood part, the highly conductive earlywood. An increase in conduit wall reinforcement of earlywood tracheids would be too costly for the tree. Increasing radial compression strength by modification of microfibril angles or ray cell number could result in a decrease of MOE, which would negatively affect the trunk’s capability to support the crown. We propose that radial compression strength could be an easily assessable and highly predictive parameter for the resistance against implosion or vulnerability to cavitation across conifer species, which should be topic of further studies.
PMCID: PMC3207224  PMID: 22058609
Compression strength perpendicular to the grain; Conduit wall reinforcement; Hydraulic efficiency; Modulus of elasticity in bending; Norway spruce; Structure–function relationships; Vulnerability to cavitation; Wood shrinkage
9.  Anatomical features that facilitate radial flow across growth rings and from xylem to cambium in Cryptomeria japonica 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(7):1145-1157.
Background and Aims
Although the lateral movement of water and gas in tree stems is an important issue for understanding tree physiology, as well as for the development of wood preservation technologies, little is known about the vascular pathways for radial flow. The aim of the current study was to understand the occurrence and the structure of anatomical features of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) wood including the tracheid networks, and area fractions of intertracheary pits, tangential walls of ray cells and radial intercellular spaces that may be related to the radial permeability (conductivity) of the xylem.
Wood structure was investigated by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy of traditional wood anatomical preparations and by a new method of exposed tangential faces of growth-ring boundaries.
Key Results
Radial wall pitting and radial grain in earlywood and tangential wall pitting in latewood provide a direct connection between subsequent tangential layers of tracheids. Bordered pit pairs occur frequently between earlywood and latewood tracheids on both sides of a growth-ring boundary. In the tangential face of the xylem at the interface with the cambium, the area fraction of intertracheary pit membranes is similar to that of rays (2·8 % and 2·9 %, respectively). The intercellular spaces of rays are continuous across growth-ring boundaries. In the samples, the mean cross-sectional area of individual radial intercellular spaces was 1·2 µm2 and their total volume was 0·06 % of that of the xylem and 2·07 % of the volume of rays.
A tracheid network can provide lateral apoplastic transport of substances in the secondary xylem of sugi. The intertracheid pits in growth-ring boundaries can be considered an important pathway, distinct from that of the rays, for transport of water across growth rings and from xylem to cambium.
PMCID: PMC2707907  PMID: 19258338
Cryptomeria japonica; bordered pit; intercellular spaces; lateral transport; tracheid network; water conduction; xylem permeability
10.  Cavitation in dehydrating xylem of Picea abies: energy properties of ultrasonic emissions reflect tracheid dimensions 
Tree physiology  2011;31(1):59-67.
Ultrasonic emission (UE) testing is used to analyse the vulnerability of xylem to embolism, but the number of UEs often does not sufficiently reflect effects on hydraulic conductivity. We monitored the absolute energy of UE signals in dehydrating xylem samples hypothesizing that (i) conduit diameter is correlated with UE energy and (ii) monitoring of UE energy may enhance the utility of this technique for analysis of xylem vulnerability. Split xylem samples were prepared from trunk wood of Picea abies, and four categories of samples, derived from mature (I: earlywood, II: 30–50% latewood, III: >50% latewood) or juvenile wood (IV: earlywood) were used. Ultrasonic emissions during dehydration were registered and anatomical parameters (tracheid lumen area, number per area) were analysed from cross-sections. Attenuation of UE energy was measured on a dehydrating wood beam by repeated lead breaks. Vulnerability to drought-induced embolism was analysed on dehydrating branches by hydraulic, UE number or UE energy measurements. In split samples, the cumulative number of UEs increased linearly with the number of tracheids per cross-section, and UE energy was positively correlated with the mean lumen area. Ultrasonic emission energies of earlywood samples (I and IV), which showed normally distributed tracheid lumen areas, increased during dehydration, whereas samples with latewood (II and III) exhibited a right-skewed distribution of lumina and UE energies. Ultrasonic emission energy was hardly influenced by moisture content until ~40% moisture loss, and decreased exponentially thereafter. Dehydrating branches showed a 50% loss of conductivity at −3.6 MPa in hydraulic measurements and at −3.9 and −3.5 MPa in UE analysis based on cumulative number or energy of signals, respectively. Ultrasonic emission energy emitted by cavitating conduits is determined by the xylem water potential and by the size of element. Energy patterns during dehydration are thus influenced by the vulnerability to cavitation, conduit size distribution as well as attenuation properties. Measurements of UE energy may be used as an alternative to the number of UEs in vulnerability analysis.
PMCID: PMC3199436  PMID: 21389002
earlywood; latewood; Picea abies; signal energy; tracheid dimension; ultrasonic emission; vulnerability to xylem embolism
11.  Dynamics of Depletion and Replenishment of Water Storage in Stem and Roots of Black Spruce Measured by Dendrometers 
In the short term, trees rely on the internal storage of water because it affects their ability to sustain photosynthesis and growth. However, water is not rapidly available for transpiration from all the compartments of the plant and the living tissues of the stem act as a buffer to preclude low water potentials during peaks of transpiration. In this paper, electronic dendrometers were used from mid-June to mid-September 2008 to compare the radius variations in stem and roots of black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.] in two sites of the boreal forest of Quebec, Canada, with different soil characteristics and water retention. The duration of the daily cycles was similar between sites and measurement heights but greater amplitudes of contraction and expansion were observed on the stem and in the site with the shallowest soil organic layer. The expansion phase had higher amplitudes and lasted longer than contraction. On average, the contraction phase occurred between 07:00 and 16:30 (legal time), while expansion lasted 14.5 h. The roots in the site with the deepest organic layer showed a wider variation in the onset of contraction, which could be as late as 13:00. The probability of observing the contraction phase depended on precipitation. With a precipitation <0.5 mm h−1, the bivariate posterior probabilities estimated >60% probability of observing contraction between 05:00 and 21:00, decreasing to 20% with precipitation >1.1 mm h−1. These findings demonstrated that the depth of the organic layer plays an important role in maintaining the internal water reserve of trees. The dynamics of water depletion and replenishment can modify the water potential of xylem and cell turgor during the enlargement phase, thus affecting radial growth. Changes in temperature and precipitation regime could influence the dynamics of internal water storage in trees growing on shallower and drier soils.
PMCID: PMC3355585  PMID: 22639583
boreal forest; climate change; stem cycle approach; plant–water relationships; soil depth; water reserves
12.  Effects of climate variables on intra-annual stem radial increment in Pinus cembra (L.) along the alpine treeline ecotone 
Annals of forest science  2009;66(5):503.
Within the alpine treeline ecotone tree growth is increasingly restricted by extreme climate conditions. Although intra-annual stem growth recorded by dendrometers can be linked to climate, stem diameter increments in slow-growing subalpine trees are masked by changes in tree water status.We tested the hypothesis that intra-annual radial stem growth in Pinus cembra is influenced by different climate variables along the treeline ecotone in the Austrian Alps. Dendrometer traces were compared with dynamics of xylem cell development to date onset of cambial activity and radial stem growth in spring.Daily fluctuations in stem radius reflected changes in tree water status throughout the treeline ecotone. Extracted daily radial increments were significantly correlated with air temperature at the timberline and treeline only, where budburst, cambial activity and enlargement of first tracheids also occurred quite similarly. A close relationship was detected between radial increment and number of enlarging tracheids throughout the treeline ecotone.We conclude that (i) the relationship between climate and radial stem growth within the treeline ecotone is dependent on a close coupling to atmospheric climate conditions and (ii) initiation of cambial activity and radial growth in spring can be distinguished from stem re-hydration by histological analysis.
PMCID: PMC3059571  PMID: 21423861
dendrometer; Pinus cembra; radial increment; treeline ecotone; xylem formation
13.  Impact of drought on the temporal dynamics of wood formation in Pinus sylvestris 
Tree physiology  2010;30(4):490-501.
We determined the temporal dynamics of cambial activity and xylem cell differentiation of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) within a dry inner Alpine valley (750 m asl, Tyrol, Austria), where radial growth is strongly limited by drought in spring. Repeated micro-sampling of the developing tree ring of mature trees was carried out during 2 contrasting years at two study plots that differ in soil water availability (xeric and dry-mesic site).
In 2007, when air temperature at the beginning of the growing season in April exceeded the long-term mean by 6.4 °C, cambial cell division started in early April at both study plots. A delayed onset of cambial activity of c. 2 wk was found in 2008, when average climate conditions prevailed in spring, indicating that resumption of cambial cell division after winter dormancy is temperature-controlled. Cambial cell division consistently ended about the end of June/early July in both study years. Radial enlargement of tracheids started almost 3 wk earlier in 2007 compared with 2008 at both study plots. At the xeric site, the maximum rate of tracheid production in 2007 and 2008 was reached in early and mid-May, respectively, and c. 2 wk later, at the dry-mesic site. Since in both study years, more favorable growing conditions (i.e., an increase in soil water content) were recorded during summer, we suggest a strong sink competition for carbohydrates to mycorrhizal root and shoot growth. Wood formation stopped c. 4 wk earlier at the xeric compared with the dry-mesic site in both years, indicating a strong influence of drought stress on cell differentiation. This is supported by radial widths of earlywood cells, which were found to be significantly narrower at the xeric than at the dry-mesic site (P < 0.05).
Repeated cellular analyses during the two growing seasons revealed that, although spatial variability in the dynamics and duration of cell differentiation processes in Pinus sylvestris exposed to drought is strongly influenced by water availability, the onset of cambial activity and cell differentiation is controlled by temperature.
PMCID: PMC3046340  PMID: 20197285
Cambium; dry inner Alpine valley; intra-annual growth; Scots pine; tracheid production; xylogenesis
14.  Scaling of xylem and phloem transport capacity and resource usage with tree size 
Xylem and phloem need to maintain steady transport rates of water and carbohydrates to match the exchange rates of these compounds at the leaves. A major proportion of the carbon and nitrogen assimilated by a tree is allocated to the construction and maintenance of the xylem and phloem long distance transport tissues. This proportion can be expected to increase with increasing tree size due to the growing transport distances between the assimilating tissues, i.e., leaves and fine roots, at the expense of their growth. We formulated whole tree level scaling relations to estimate how xylem and phloem volume, nitrogen content and hydraulic conductance scale with tree size, and how these properties are distributed along a tree height. Xylem and phloem thicknesses and nitrogen contents were measured within varying positions in four tree species from Southern Finland. Phloem volume, nitrogen amount and hydraulic conductance were found to be concentrated toward the branch and stem apices, in contrast to the xylem where these properties were more concentrated toward the tree base. All of the species under study demonstrated very similar trends. Total nitrogen amount allocated to xylem and phloem was predicted to be comparable to the nitrogen amount allocated to the leaves in small and medium size trees, and to increase significantly above the nitrogen content of the leaves in larger trees. Total volume, hydraulic conductance and nitrogen content of the xylem were predicted to increase faster than that of the phloem with increasing tree height in small trees (<~10 m in height). In larger trees, xylem sapwood turnover to heartwood, if present, would maintain phloem conductance at the same level with xylem conductance with further increases in tree height. Further simulations with a previously published xylem-phloem transport model demonstrated that the Münch pressure flow hypothesis could explain phloem transport with increasing tree height even for the tallest trees.
PMCID: PMC3851740  PMID: 24367373
carbon allocation; metabolic scaling; nitrogen allocation; phloem transport; pipe model; xylem transport
15.  Dynamic changes in transcripts during regeneration of the secondary vascular system in Populus tomentosa Carr. revealed by cDNA microarrays 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:215.
Wood is the end product of secondary vascular system development, which begins from the cambium. The wood formation process includes four major stages: cell expansion, secondary wall biosynthesis, lignification, and programmed cell death. Transcriptional profiling is a rapid way to screen for genes involved in these stages and their transitions, providing the basis for understanding the molecular mechanisms that control this process.
In this study, cDNA microarrays were prepared from a subtracted cDNA library (cambium zone versus leaf) of Chinese white poplar (Populus tomentosa Carr.) and employed to analyze the transcriptional profiles during the regeneration of the secondary vascular system, a platform established in our previous study. Two hundred and seven genes showed transcript-level differences at the different regeneration stages. Dramatic transcriptional changes were observed at cambium initiation, cambium formation and differentiation, and xylem development, suggesting that these up- or downregulated genes play important roles in these stage transitions. Transcription factors such as AUX/IAA and PINHEAD, which were previously shown to be involved in meristem and vascular tissue differentiation, were strongly transcribed at the stages when cambial cells were initiated and underwent differentiation, whereas genes encoding MYB proteins and several small heat shock proteins were strongly transcribed at the stage when xylem development begins.
Employing this method, we observed dynamic changes in gene transcript levels at the key stages, including cambium initiation, cambium formation and differentiation, and xylem development, suggesting that these up- or downregulated genes are strongly involved in these stage transitions. Further studies of these genes could help elucidate their roles in wood formation.
PMCID: PMC2685409  PMID: 19426563
16.  Transcriptome profiling of radiata pine branches reveals new insights into reaction wood formation with implications in plant gravitropism 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):768.
Formation of compression (CW) and opposite wood (OW) in branches and bent trunks is an adaptive feature of conifer trees in response to various displacement forces, such as gravity, wind, snow and artificial bending. Several previous studies have characterized tracheids, wood and gene transcription in artificially or naturally bent conifer trunks. These studies have provided molecular basis of reaction wood formation in response to bending forces and gravity stimulus. However, little is known about reaction wood formation and gene transcription in conifer branches under gravity stress. In this study SilviScan® technology was used to characterize tracheid and wood traits in radiate pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) branches and genes differentially transcribed in CW and OW were investigated using cDNA microarrays.
CW drastically differed from OW in tracheids and wood traits with increased growth, thicker tracheid walls, larger microfibril angle (MFA), higher density and lower stiffness. However, CW and OW tracheids had similar diameters in either radial or tangential direction. Thus, gravity stress largely influenced wood growth, secondary wall deposition, cellulose microfibril orientation and wood properties, but had little impact on primary wall expansion. Microarray gene transcription revealed about 29% of the xylem transcriptomes were significantly altered in CW and OW sampled in both spring and autumn, providing molecular evidence for the drastic variation in tracheid and wood traits. Genes involved in cell division, cellulose biosynthesis, lignin deposition, and microtubules were mostly up-regulated in CW, conferring its greater growth, thicker tracheid walls, higher density, larger MFA and lower stiffness. However, genes with roles in cell expansion and primary wall formation were differentially transcribed in CW and OW, respectively, implicating their similar diameters of tracheid walls and different tracheid lengths. Interestingly, many genes related to hormone and calcium signalling as well as various environmental stresses were exclusively up-regulated in CW, providing important clues for earlier molecular signatures of reaction wood formation under gravity stimulus.
The first comprehensive investigation of tracheid characteristics, wood properties and gene transcription in branches of a conifer species revealed more accurate and new insights into reaction wood formation in response to gravity stress. The identified differentially transcribed genes with diverse functions conferred or implicated drastic CW and OW variation observed in radiata pine branches. These genes are excellent candidates for further researches on the molecular mechanisms of reaction wood formation with a view to plant gravitropism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-768) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4046691  PMID: 24209714
Compression wood; Tracheid; Conifers; Transcriptome; Microarray; Plant gravitropism; Microfibril angle (MFA); Wood stiffness
17.  Freeze/Thaw-Induced Embolism: Probability of Critical Bubble Formation Depends on Speed of Ice Formation 
Bubble formation in the conduits of woody plants sets a challenge for uninterrupted water transportation from the soil up to the canopy. Freezing and thawing of stems has been shown to increase the number of air-filled (embolized) conduits, especially in trees with large conduit diameters. Despite numerous experimental studies, the mechanisms leading to bubble formation during freezing have not been addressed theoretically. We used classical nucleation theory and fluid mechanics to show which mechanisms are most likely to be responsible for bubble formation during freezing and what parameters determine the likelihood of the process. Our results confirm the common assumption that bubble formation during freezing is most likely due to gas segregation by ice. If xylem conduit walls are not permeable to the salts expelled by ice during the freezing process, osmotic pressures high enough for air seeding could be created. The build-up rate of segregated solutes in front of the ice-water interface depends equally on conduit diameter and freezing velocity. Therefore, bubble formation probability depends on these variables. The dependence of bubble formation probability on freezing velocity means that the experimental results obtained for cavitation threshold conduit diameters during freeze/thaw cycles depend on the experimental setup; namely sample size and cooling rate. The velocity dependence also suggests that to avoid bubble formation during freezing trees should have narrow conduits where freezing is likely to be fast (e.g., branches or outermost layer of the xylem). Avoidance of bubble formation during freezing could thus be one piece of the explanation why xylem conduit size of temperate and boreal zone trees varies quite systematically.
PMCID: PMC3368182  PMID: 22685446
air seeding; cavitation; gas segregation; nucleation; xylem
18.  Fluctuations of cambial activity in relation to precipitation result in annual rings and intra-annual growth zones of xylem and phloem in teak (Tectona grandis) in Ivory Coast 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(4):861-873.
Background and Aims
Teak forms xylem rings that potentially carry records of carbon sequestration and climate in the tropics. These records are only useful when the structural variations of tree rings and their periodicity of formation are known.
The seasonality of ring formation in mature teak trees was examined via correlative analysis of cambial activity, xylem and phloem formation, and climate throughout 1·5 years. Xylem and phloem differentiation were visualized by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
A 3 month dry season resulted in semi-deciduousness, cambial dormancy and formation of annual xylem growth rings (AXGRs). Intra-annual xylem and phloem growth was characterized by variable intensity. Morphometric features of cambium such as cambium thickness and differentiating xylem layers were positively correlated. Cambium thickness was strongly correlated with monthly rainfall (R2 = 0·7535). In all sampled trees, xylem growth zones (XGZs) were formed within the AXGRs during the seasonal development of new foliage. When trees achieved full leaf, the xylem in the new XGZs appeared completely differentiated and functional for water transport. Two phloem growth rings were formed in one growing season.
The seasonal formation pattern and microstructure of teak xylem suggest that AXGRs and XGZs can be used as proxies for analyses of the tree history and climate at annual and intra-annual resolution.
PMCID: PMC3423803  PMID: 22805529
Growth rings; teak; Tectona grandis; vascular cambium; xylem and phloem formation
19.  Defining an Adequate Sample of Earlywood Vessels for Retrospective Injury Detection in Diffuse-Porous Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38824.
Vessels of broad-leaved trees have been analyzed to study how trees deal with various environmental factors. Cambial injury, in particular, has been reported to induce the formation of narrower conduits. Yet, little or no effort has been devoted to the elaboration of vessel sampling strategies for retrospective injury detection based on vessel lumen size reduction. To fill this methodological gap, four wounded individuals each of grey alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench) and downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) were harvested in an avalanche path. Earlywood vessel lumina were measured and compared for each tree between the injury ring built during the growing season following wounding and the control ring laid down the previous year. Measurements were performed along a 10 mm wide radial strip, located directly next to the injury. Specifically, this study aimed at (i) investigating the intra-annual duration and local extension of vessel narrowing close to the wound margin and (ii) identifying an adequate sample of earlywood vessels (number and intra-ring location of cells) attesting to cambial injury. Based on the results of this study, we recommend analyzing at least 30 vessels in each ring. Within the 10 mm wide segment of the injury ring, wound-induced reduction in vessel lumen size did not fade with increasing radial and tangential distances, but we nevertheless advise favoring early earlywood vessels located closest to the injury. These findings, derived from two species widespread across subarctic, mountainous, and temperate regions, will assist retrospective injury detection in Alnus, Betula, and other diffuse-porous species as well as future related research on hydraulic implications after wounding.
PMCID: PMC3383697  PMID: 22761707
20.  A Patchy Growth via Successive and Simultaneous Cambia: Key to Success of the Most Widespread Mangrove Species Avicennia marina? 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(1):49-58.
Background and Aims
Secondary growth via successive cambia has been intriguing researchers for decades. Insight into the mechanism of growth layer formation is, however, limited to the cellular level. The present study aims to clarify secondary growth via successive cambia in the mangrove species Avicennia marina on a macroscopic level, addressing the formation of the growth layer network as a whole. In addition, previously suggested effects of salinity on growth layer formation were reconsidered.
A 1-year cambial marking experiment was performed on 80 trees from eight sites in two mangrove forests in Kenya. Environmental (soil water salinity and nutrients, soil texture, inundation frequency) and tree characteristics (diameter, height, leaf area index) were recorded for each site. Both groups of variables were analysed in relation to annual number of growth layers, annual radial increment and average growth layer width of stem discs.
Key Results
Between trees of the same site, the number of growth layers formed during the 1-year study period varied from only part of a growth layer up to four growth layers, and was highly correlated to the corresponding radial increment (0–5 mm year–1), even along the different sides of asymmetric stem discs. The radial increment was unrelated to salinity, but the growth layer width decreased with increasing salinity and decreasing tree height.
A patchy growth mechanism was proposed, with an optimal growth at distinct moments in time at different positions around the stem circumference. This strategy creates the opportunity to form several growth layers simultaneously, as observed in 14 % of the studied trees, which may optimize tree growth under favourable conditions. Strong evidence was provided for a mainly endogenous trigger controlling cambium differentiation, with an additional influence of current environmental conditions in a trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and mechanical stability.
PMCID: PMC2701843  PMID: 18006508
Avicenia marina; cambial marking; mangrove; phloem; salinity; secondary growth; successive cambia; xylem
21.  Intra-annual dynamics of stem CO2 efflux in relation to cambial activity and xylem development in Pinus cembra 
Tree physiology  2009;29(5):641-649.
The relationship between stem CO2 efflux (ES), cambial activity and xylem production in Pinus cembra was determined at the timberline (1950 m a.s.l.) of the Central Austrian Alps, throughout one year. ES was measured continuously from June 2006 to August 2007 using an infrared gas-analysis system. Cambial activity and xylem production was determined by repeated microcore sampling of the developing tree ring and radial increment was monitored using automated point dendrometers. Aside of temperature, the number of living tracheids and cambial cells was predominantly responsible for ES: ES normalized to 10°C (ES10) was significantly correlated to number of living cells throughout the year (r2 = 0,574; p < 0,001). However, elevated ES and missing correlation between ES10 and xylem production was detected during cambial reactivation in April and during transition from active phase to rest, which occurred in August and lasted until early September. Results of this study indicate that (i) during seasonal variations in cambial activity non-linearity between ES and xylem production occurs and (ii) elevated metabolic activity during transition stages in the cambial activity-dormancy cycle influence the carbon budget of Pinus cembra. Daily radial stem increment was primarily influenced by the number of enlarging cells and was not correlated to ES.
PMCID: PMC3013296  PMID: 19203979
cambial reactivation; dormancy; Pinus cembra; radial stem growth; sap flow; stem CO2 efflux; stem respiration; xylem production
22.  Shrinkage processes in standard-size Norway spruce wood specimens with different vulnerability to cavitation 
Tree physiology  2009;29(11):1419-1431.
The aim of this study was to observe the radial shrinkage of Norway spruce [Picea abies (L. Karst.)] trunkwood specimens with different hydraulic vulnerability to cavitation from the fully saturated state until the overall shrinkage reaches a stable value, and to relate wood shrinkage and recovery from shrinkage to cavitations of the water column inside the tracheids. Radial shrinkage processes in standard-size sapwood specimens (6 mm × 6 mm × 100 mm; radial, tangential and longitudinal) obtained at different positions within the trunk, representing different ages of the cambium, were compared. Cavitation events were assessed by acoustic emission (AE) testing, hydraulic vulnerability by the AE feature analysis and shrinkage was calculated from the changes in contact pressure between the 150 kHz AE transducer and the wood specimen. Two shrinkage processes were observed in both juvenile (annual rings 1 and 2) and mature wood (annual rings 17–19), the first one termed tension shrinkage and the second one cell wall shrinkage process, which started when most of the tracheids reached relative water contents below fiber saturation. Maximum tension shrinkage coincided with high-energy AEs, and the periods of shrinkage recovery could be traced to tension release due to cavitation. Juvenile wood, which was less sensitive to cavitation, had lower earlywood tracheid diameters and was less prone to deformation due to tensile strain than mature wood, showed a lower cell wall shrinkage, and thus total shrinkage. Earlywood lumen diameters and maximum tension shrinkage were strongly positively related to each other, meaning that bigger tracheids are more prone to deformation at the same water tension than the smaller tracheids.
PMCID: PMC3196842  PMID: 19797244
acoustic emission testing; conduit reinforcement; tensile strain; wood shrinkage
23.  Transcriptome profiling of Pinus radiata juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness identifies putative candidate genes involved in microfibril orientation and cell wall mechanics 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:480.
The mechanical properties of wood are largely determined by the orientation of cellulose microfibrils in secondary cell walls. Several genes and their allelic variants have previously been found to affect microfibril angle (MFA) and wood stiffness; however, the molecular mechanisms controlling microfibril orientation and mechanical strength are largely uncharacterised. In the present study, cDNA microarrays were used to compare gene expression in developing xylem with contrasting stiffness and MFA in juvenile Pinus radiata trees in order to gain further insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying microfibril orientation and cell wall mechanics.
Juvenile radiata pine trees with higher stiffness (HS) had lower MFA in the earlywood and latewood of each ring compared to low stiffness (LS) trees. Approximately 3.4 to 14.5% out of 3, 320 xylem unigenes on cDNA microarrays were differentially regulated in juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness and MFA. Greater variation in MFA and stiffness was observed in earlywood compared to latewood, suggesting earlywood contributes most to differences in stiffness; however, 3-4 times more genes were differentially regulated in latewood than in earlywood. A total of 108 xylem unigenes were differentially regulated in juvenile wood with HS and LS in at least two seasons, including 43 unigenes with unknown functions. Many genes involved in cytoskeleton development and secondary wall formation (cellulose and lignin biosynthesis) were preferentially transcribed in wood with HS and low MFA. In contrast, several genes involved in cell division and primary wall synthesis were more abundantly transcribed in LS wood with high MFA.
Microarray expression profiles in Pinus radiata juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness has shed more light on the transcriptional control of microfibril orientation and the mechanical properties of wood. The identified candidate genes provide an invaluable resource for further gene function and association genetics studies aimed at deepening our understanding of cell wall biomechanics with a view to improving the mechanical properties of wood.
PMCID: PMC3224210  PMID: 21962175
24.  Generalized additive models reveal the intrinsic complexity of wood formation dynamics 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(7):1983-1994.
The intra-annual dynamics of wood formation, which involves the passage of newly produced cells through three successive differentiation phases (division, enlargement, and wall thickening) to reach the final functional mature state, has traditionally been described in conifers as three delayed bell-shaped curves followed by an S-shaped curve. Here the classical view represented by the ‘Gompertz function (GF) approach’ was challenged using two novel approaches based on parametric generalized linear models (GLMs) and ‘data-driven’ generalized additive models (GAMs). These three approaches (GFs, GLMs, and GAMs) were used to describe seasonal changes in cell numbers in each of the xylem differentiation phases and to calculate the timing of cell development in three conifer species [Picea abies (L.), Pinus sylvestris L., and Abies alba Mill.]. GAMs outperformed GFs and GLMs in describing intra-annual wood formation dynamics, showing two left-skewed bell-shaped curves for division and enlargement, and a right-skewed bimodal curve for thickening. Cell residence times progressively decreased through the season for enlargement, whilst increasing late but rapidly for thickening. These patterns match changes in cell anatomical features within a tree ring, which allows the separation of earlywood and latewood into two distinct cell populations. A novel statistical approach is presented which renews our understanding of xylogenesis, a dynamic biological process in which the rate of cell production interplays with cell residence times in each developmental phase to create complex seasonal patterns.
PMCID: PMC3638824  PMID: 23530132
Cambial activity; conifers; generalized linear and additive models (GLMs and GAMs); Gompertz functions (GFs); timing of cell development; tree ring; wood formation; xylogenesis.
25.  Xylem Structure and Connectivity in Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) Shoots Provides a Passive Mechanism for the Spread of Bacteria in Grape Plants 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(3):483-494.
• Background and Aims Bacterial leaf scorch occurring in a number of economically important plants is caused by the xylem-limited bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Xf). In grapevine, Xf systemic infection causes Pierce's disease and is lethal. Traditional dogma is that Xf movement between vessels requires the digestion of inter-vessel pit membranes. However, Yersinia enterocolitica (Ye) (a bacterium found in animals) and fluorescent beads moved rapidly within grapevine xylem from stem into leaf lamina, suggesting open conduits consisting of long, branched xylem vessels for passive movement. This study builds on and expands previous observations on the nature of these conduits and how they affect Xf movement.
• Methods Air, latex paint and green fluorescence protein (GFP)-Xf were loaded into leaves and followed to confirm and identify these conduits. Leaf xylem anatomy was studied to determine the basis for the free and sometimes restricted movement of Ye, beads, air, paint and GFP-Xf into the lamina.
• Key Results Reverse loading experiments demonstrated that long, branched xylem vessels occurred exclusively in primary xylem. They were observed in the stem for three internodes before diverging into mature leaves. However, this stem—leaf connection was an age-dependent character and was absent for the first 10–12 leaves basal to the apical meristem. Free movement in leaf blade xylem was cell-type specific with vessels facilitating movement in the body of the blade and tracheids near the leaf margin. Air, latex paint and GFP-Xf all moved about 50–60 % of the leaf length. GFP-Xf was never observed close to the leaf margin.
• Conclusions The open vessels of the primary xylem offered unimpeded long distance pathways bridging stem to leaves, possibly facilitating the spread of bacterial pathogens in planta. GFP-Xf never reached the leaf margins where scorching appeared, suggesting a signal targeting specific cells or a toxic build-up at hydathodes.
PMCID: PMC2803575  PMID: 16790469
Xylella fastidiosa; pathogens; xylem; stem—leaf connection; grapevine; passive movement; systemic

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