The Major Veins of Mesomorphic Leaves Revisited: Tests for Conductive Overload in Acer saccharum (Aceraceae) and Quercus rubra (Fagaceae)
Cowan, Peter D.
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CitationSack, Lawren, Peter D. Cowan, and Noel Michelle Holbrook. 2003. The major veins of mesomorphic leaves revisited: Tests for conductive overload in Acer saccharum (Aceraceae) and Quercus rubra (Fagaceae). American Journal of Botany 90(1): 32-39.
AbstractMany leaves survive the severing of their major veins in apparently excellent health. According to the classical explanation, the leaf minor veins provide "conductive overload," an excess of parallel conductive paths, rendering the major veins hydraulically dispensable. Whether such an excess of conductive paths exists has important implications for vascular design and for leaf response to vascular damage. We subjected leaves of Acer saccharum and Quercus rubra to cutting treatments that disrupted the major vein system and determined leaf survival, stomatal conductance (g), quantum yield of photosystem II (Phi(PSII)), and leaf hydraulic conductance (K-leaf). For A. saccharum, the cuts led to the death of distal lamina. For Q. rubra, however, the treated leaves typically remained apparently healthy. Despite their appearance, the treated Q. rubra leaves had a strongly reduced K-leaf,K- relative to control leaves, and g and Phi(PSII) were reduced distal to the cuts, respectively, by 75-97% and 48-76%. Gas exchange proximal to the cuts was unaffected, indicating the independence of lamina regions and their local stomata. Analogous results were obtained with excised Q. rubra leaves. These studies demonstrate an indispensable, vital role of the major veins in conducting water throughout the lamina.
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