, Volume 234, Issue 5, pp 1045–1054 | Cite as

Shifts in xylem vessel diameter and embolisms in grafted apple trees of differing rootstock growth potential in response to drought

  • Taryn L. Bauerle
  • Michela Centinari
  • William L. Bauerle
Original Article


We investigated responses of plant growth rate, hydraulic resistance, and xylem cavitation in scion-rootstock-combinations of Malus domestica L. cv. Honeycrisp scions grafted onto a high-shoot vigor (HSV) rootstock, (semi-dwarfing Malling111), or onto a low-shoot vigor (LSV) rootstock, (dwarfing Budagovsky 9), in response to substrate moisture limitation. Adjustments in xylem vessel diameter and frequency were related to hydraulic resistance measurements for high- versus low- vigor apple trees. We observed a greater tolerance to water deficit in the high-shoot compared to the low-shoot vigor plants under water deficit as evidenced by increased growth in several plant organs, and greater scion anatomical response to limited water availability with ca. 25% increased vessel frequency and ca. 28% narrower current season xylem ring width. Whereas water limitation resulted in greater graft union hydraulic resistance of high-shoot vigor trees, the opposite was true when water was not limiting. The graft union of the low-shoot vigor rootstock exhibited higher hydraulic resistance under well-watered conditions. Scions of high-shoot vigor rootstocks had fewer embolisms at low plant water status compared to scions of low-shoot vigor rootstocks, presumably as a result of large differences in xylem vessel diameter. Our results demonstrated that anatomical differences were related to shifts in hydraulic conductivity and cavitation events, a direct result of grafting, under limited soil water.


Hydraulic resistance Water stress Xylem anatomy Malus domestica Rootstock Cavitation 



We thank, S. Cummins for plant material and grafting services; V. Pagay, B. Emmett, A. Paya, M. Smith, and M. Goebel for their help with plant harvesting and hydraulic resistance measurements; M. Tyree for advice and discussions on hydraulic resistance methodology; M. Goffinet for advice on microtechnique; C. Soudant-Daugherty for Cryo-SEM technique; M. van Iersel, and J. Sparks for the use of high pressure flow meter and gas exchange equipment; and three anonymous reviewers for improvement of this publication. The investigation was supported by the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station.

Supplementary material

425_2011_1460_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (21 kb)
Online Resource 1 (PDF 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taryn L. Bauerle
    • 1
  • Michela Centinari
    • 1
  • William L. Bauerle
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HorticultureCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture & Landscape ArchitectureColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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