How to quantify conduits in wood?

Front Plant Sci. 2013 Mar 18;4:56. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00056. eCollection 2013.


Vessels and tracheids represent the most important xylem cells with respect to long distance water transport in plants. Wood anatomical studies frequently provide several quantitative details of these cells, such as vessel diameter, vessel density, vessel element length, and tracheid length, while important information on the three dimensional structure of the hydraulic network is not considered. This paper aims to provide an overview of various techniques, although there is no standard protocol to quantify conduits due to high anatomical variation and a wide range of techniques available. Despite recent progress in image analysis programs and automated methods for measuring cell dimensions, density, and spatial distribution, various characters remain time-consuming and tedious. Quantification of vessels and tracheids is not only important to better understand functional adaptations of tracheary elements to environment parameters, but will also be essential for linking wood anatomy with other fields such as wood development, xylem physiology, palaeobotany, and dendrochronology.

Keywords: bordered pit; pit membrane; tracheid; vessel; vessel element; wood anatomy.