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Investigating Effects of Bordered Pit Membrane Morphology and Properties on Plant Xylem Hydraulic Functions—A Case Study from 3D Reconstruction and Microflow Modelling of Pit Membranes in Angiosperm Xylem

1
Department of Wood Anatomy and Utilization, Research Institute of Wood Industry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2
Wood Collections (WOODPEDIA), Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
3
College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
4
International Center for Bamboo and Rattan, Beijing 100102, China
5
Institute of New Forestry Technology, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100083, China
6
School of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an 710072, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2020, 9(2), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9020231
Received: 12 December 2019 / Revised: 18 January 2020 / Accepted: 8 February 2020 / Published: 11 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Physiology and Metabolism)
Pit membranes in between neighboring conduits of xylem play a crucial role in plant water transport. In this review, the morphological characteristics, chemical composition and mechanical properties of bordered pit membranes were summarized and linked with their functional roles in xylem hydraulics. The trade-off between xylem hydraulic efficiency and safety was closely related with morphology and properties of pit membranes, and xylem embolism resistance was also determined by the pit membrane morphology and properties. Besides, to further investigate the effects of bordered pit membranes morphology and properties on plant xylem hydraulic functions, here we modelled three-dimensional structure of bordered pit membranes by applying a deposition technique. Based on reconstructed 3D pit membrane structures, a virtual fibril network was generated to model the microflow pattern across inter-vessel pit membranes. Moreover, the mechanical behavior of intervessel pit membranes was estimated from a single microfibril’s mechanical property. Pit membranes morphology varied among different angiosperm and gymnosperm species. Our modelling work suggested that larger pores of pit membranes do not necessarily contribute to major flow rate across pit membranes; instead, the obstructed degree of flow pathway across the pit membranes plays a more important role. Our work provides useful information for studying the mechanism of microfluid flow transport across pit membranes and also sheds light on investigating the response of pit membranes both at normal and stressed conditions, thus improving our understanding on functional roles of pit membranes in xylem hydraulic function. Further work could be done to study the morphological and mechanical response of bordered pit membranes under different dehydrated conditions, as well as the related microflow behavior, based on our constructed model.
Keywords: pit membranes; morphology; 3D reconstruction; microflow modelling; chemical composition; mechanical property pit membranes; morphology; 3D reconstruction; microflow modelling; chemical composition; mechanical property
MDPI and ACS Style

Li, S.; Wang, J.; Yin, Y.; Li, X.; Deng, L.; Jiang, X.; Chen, Z.; Li, Y. Investigating Effects of Bordered Pit Membrane Morphology and Properties on Plant Xylem Hydraulic Functions—A Case Study from 3D Reconstruction and Microflow Modelling of Pit Membranes in Angiosperm Xylem. Plants 2020, 9, 231.

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