Background and Aims
The networks of vessel elements play a vital role in the transport of water from roots to leaves, and the continuous formation of earlywood vessels is crucial for the growth of ring-porous hardwoods. The differentiation of earlywood vessels is controlled by external and internal factors. The present study was designed to identify the limiting factors in the induction of cambial reactivation and the differentiation of earlywood vessels, using localized heating and disbudding of dormant stems of seedlings of a deciduous ring-porous hardwood, Quercus serrata.
Localized heating was achieved by wrapping an electric heating ribbon around stems. Disbudding involved removal of all buds. Three treatments were initiated on 1 February 2012, namely heating, disbudding and a combination of heating and disbudding, with untreated dormant stems as controls. Cambial reactivation and differentiation of vessel elements were monitored by light and polarized-light microscopy, and the growth of buds was followed.
Cambial reactivation and differentiation of vessel elements occurred sooner in heated seedlings than in non-heated seedlings before bud break. The combination of heating and disbudding of seedlings also resulted in earlier cambial reactivation and differentiation of first vessel elements than in non-heated seedlings. A few narrow vessel elements were formed during heating after disbudding, while many large earlywood vessel elements were formed in heated seedlings with buds.
The results suggested that, in seedlings of the deciduous ring-porous hardwood Quercus serrata, elevated temperature was a direct trigger for cambial reactivation and differentiation of first vessel elements. Bud growth was not essential for cambial reactivation and differentiation of first vessel elements, but might be important for the continuous formation of wide vessel elements.