Tree shoot bending generates hydraulic pressure pulses: a new long-distance signal?

Abstract : Bending of trees causes a transient hydraulic overpressure signal that propagates rapidly along the vascular system in planta. This may be a mechanobiological remote signalling of the mechanical stress.When tree stems are mechanically stimulated, a rapid long-distance signal is induced that slows down primary growth. An investigation was carried out to determine whether the signal might be borne by a mechanically induced pressure pulse in the xylem. Coupling xylem flow meters and pressure sensors with a mechanical testing device, the hydraulic effects of mechanical deformation of tree stem and branches were measured. Organs of several tree species were studied, including gymnosperms and angiosperms with different wood densities and anatomies. Bending had a negligible effect on xylem conductivity, even when deformations were sustained or were larger than would be encountered in nature. It was found that bending caused transient variation in the hydraulic pressure within the xylem of branch segments. This local transient increase in pressure in the xylem was rapidly propagated along the vascular system in planta to the upper and lower regions of the stem. It was shown that this hydraulic pulse originates from the apoplast. Water that was mobilized in the hydraulic pulses came from the saturated porous material of the conduits and their walls, suggesting that the poroelastic behaviour of xylem might be a key factor. Although likely to be a generic mechanical response, quantitative differences in the hydraulic pulse were found in different species, possibly related to differences in xylem anatomy. Importantly the hydraulic pulse was proportional to the strained volume, similar to known thigmomorphogenetic responses. It is hypothesized that the hydraulic pulse may be the signal that rapidly transmits mechanobiological information to leaves, roots, and apices.
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Rosana Lopez, Eric Badel, Sébastien Peraudeau, Nathalie Fournier-Leblanc, Francois Beaujard, et al.. Tree shoot bending generates hydraulic pressure pulses: a new long-distance signal?. Journal of Experimental Botany, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2014, 65 (8), pp.1997-2008. ⟨10.1093/jxb/eru045⟩. ⟨hal-01017636⟩

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