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Axial conduit widening in woody species: a still neglected anatomical pattern

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides experimental evidence that the axial conduit widening is an ineluctable feature of the vascular system in plants. If evolution has favoured efficient distribution networks the axial conduit widening can be predicted downwards along the stem. The chapter presents the "anatomical structure" of the plant modelled by West, Brown and Enquist (WBE) in detail and proves that such a predictable pattern is very close to the one observable in nature. The xylem conduit size in stems, branches and roots appeared invariably dependent on the distance from the top: moving downwards the conduits are gradually wider and this is a necessary anatomical feature for stabilizing the hydrodynamic resistance with tree height. Thus, the requirement for maintaining the efficiency of water transport throughout the plant ontogenesis in all crown parts is achieved by shaping a widened anatomical structure.

Keywords: plant ontogenesis; tree; WBE; xylem



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