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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Water and oxygen permeance of phellems isolated from trees: the role of waxes and lenticels.

The outermost phellems of Abies alba Mill., Acer pseudoplatanus L., Aesculus hippocastanum L., Betula potaninii L.C. Hue and Sambucus nigra L. have been isolated enzymatically, resulting in membranes with five to seven heavily suberized cork cell layers. Water and oxygen permeances were determined for the phellem areas without lenticels. A special diaphragm made it possible to quantify permeances of single lenticels for the first time. The water permeance of phellems was in the range of 3x10(-5) to 9x10(-5) ms(-1) and can be predicted from the density of the phellem membranes with 93% accuracy. Embedded waxes amounted to 3% ( Aesculus) and up to 35% ( Betula) of the dry weight but affected water permeance only to a small degree. The sorption isotherms describing the water content of the phellems in relation to relative humidities followed a hyperbolic shape and indicated varying water contents among plant species. It is argued that water transfer across the phellems occurs via the middle lamellae. Phellem membranes were impermeable to oxygen. Removal of the waxes hardly changed this situation. Single lenticels from Betula and Sambucus were significantly more permeable to water and oxygen than phellem areas without lenticels. The water permeance was elevated by factors of 39 for Betula and 12 for Sambucus, the oxygen permeance by factors of 1,202 for Betula and 53 for Sambucus. Extraction of lenticels did not affect permeance. A quantitative comparison of the gas-exchange capacity of lenticels and stomata demonstrated the superiority of stomata. However, differences may be not more than one order of magnitude.[1]


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