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A Structural and Compositional Analysis of Intervessel pit Membranes in the Sapwood of some Mangrove Woods

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Intervessel pits are prominent wall structures involved in the water transport mechanism of land plants. The role of their intra-tree variation in the regulation of water transport, however, remains enigmatic. The hypothesis was tested that pit membrane thickness and degree of impregnation with phenolic substances increase along the stem axis with increasing tension on the water column as an adaptation to the higher risk for cavitation. Wood samples were taken at different heights from the mangrove tree Rhizophora mucronata growing at Gazi Bay (Kenya). Additional samples were taken along the stem radius to distinguish height from age effect, and from six other mangrove species growing in the same forest. Intervessel pit membranes were studied via transmission and scanning electron microscopy and cellular UV-microspectrophotometry. The hypothesis of pit membrane thickness and composition as a static adaptation to the hydrostatic conditions during vessel differentiation could be refuted. Instead, our findings point to a more dynamic pit membrane appearance with seasonal changes in thickness and chemical composition.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22941932-90000091
2012-01-01
2016-12-10

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