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.
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.