Embolism Formation and Repair

Embolism Formation and RepairDrought as well as freeze-thaw events can induce embolism in plant xylem. We study the mechanism of air-seeding (embolism formation on drought) and freeze-thaw induced bubble formation. The combination of frost-drought and frequent freeze-thaw events was found to induce excessive winter-embolism in conifers growing at the alpine timberline. These trees were also shown to repair dysfunctional xylem sections at the end of winter. We analyse these refilling-processes in field observations and experimental studies.

Research activities focus on

  • Visualisation of air-seeding processes
  • Cavitation patterns within xylem sections
  • Temporal and spatial patterns of freeze-thaw induced embolism
  • Ultrasonic emission analysis during embolism formation
  • Correlation of hydraulic safety and anatomical parameters
  • Temporal and spatial patterns of refilling
  • Water uptake over the twig surface as prerequisite for refilling
  • Cellular aspects of refilling
  • Development of a model for refilling in conifers
  • Embolism formation and refilling in conifer needles

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), P-18514, PI: Stefan Mayr, until July 2010

Peter Hietz, Silvia Kikuta, Hanno Richter, Sabine Rosner, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Uwe Hacke, University of Alberta, Canada
Hervé Cochard, Thierry Améglio, INRA Clermont-Ferrand, France
John Sperry, University of Utah, USA

Personnel involved
Stefan Mayr
Barbara Beikircher
Birgit Dämon
Peter Schmid
Katline Charra-Vaskou

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