Research Area: Evolution to Water Stress

Triggers of tree mortality under drought

Severe droughts have caused widespread tree mortality across many forest biomes with profound effects on the function of ecosystems and carbon balance. Climate change is expected to intensify regional-scale droughts, focusing attention on the physiological basis of drought-induced…


Optical Measurement of Stem Xylem Vulnerability

Timothy John Brodribb, Marc Carriqui, Sylvain Delzon, Christopher Lucani (2017) Optical Measurement os Stem Xylem Vulnerability. Plant Physiology Jul 2017, pp.00552.2017; DOI: 10.1104/pp.17.00552

The vulnerability of plant water transport tissues to a loss of function by cavitation during water stress is a key indicator of the survival capabilities of plant species during drought. Quantifying this important metric has been greatly advanced…


Progressing from ‘functional’ to mechanistic traits

Brodribb, T (2017) Progressing from 'functional' to mechanistic traits. New Phytologist 215:9-11

This issue of New Phytologist contains a very exciting paper by Larter etal. (2017, pp. 97–112) showing how millions of years of progressive aridification in Australia led to dramatic evolution in water transport capabilities in this country’s most…


Weak co-ordination between vein and stomatal densities in 105 angiosperm tree species along altitudinal gradients in Southwest China

Leaf-level water balance, as revealed by a correlation between stomatal density (SD) and vein density (VD), has been reported in some plants. However, the generality of this correlation and how it may be affected by altitude changes are…


Transport efficiency through uniformity: Organization of veins and stomata in angiosperm leaves

Summary Leaves of vascular plants use specific tissues to irrigate the lamina (veins) and to regulate water loss (stomata), to approach homeostasis in leaf hydration during photosynthesis. As both tissues come with attendant costs, it would be expected…


Revealing catastrophic failure of leaf networks under stress

The intricate patterns of veins that adorn the leaves of land plants are among the most important networks in biology. Water flows in these leaf irrigation networks under tension and is vulnerable to embolism- forming cavitations, which cut…


Linking turgor with ABA biosynthesis: implications for stomatal responses to vapour pressure deficit across land plants

SAM McAdam, TJ Brodribb (2016) Linking turgor with ABA biosynthesis: implications for stomatal responses to vapour pressure deficit across land plants. Plant physiology, DOI:10.1104/pp.16.00380

Stomatal responses to changes in vapour pressure deficit (VPD) constitute the predominant form of daytime gas exchange regulation in plants. Stomatal closure in response to increased VPD is driven by the rapid up-regulation of foliar ABA biosynthesis and…


Drought avoidance and vulnerability in the Australian Araucariaceae

Zimmer HC, Brodribb TJ, Delzon S, Baker PJ. Drought avoidance and vulnerability in the Australian Araucariaceae. Tree Physiol. 2016 Feb;36(2):218-28. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpv111.

The Araucariaceae is an iconic tree family. Once globally important, the Araucariaceae declined dramatically over the Cenozoic period. Increasing aridity is thought to be responsible for extinction and range contraction of Araucariaceae in Australia, yet little is known…


Bringing Anatomy Back into the Equation

Brodribb TJ. Bringing anatomy back into the equation. Plant Physiology 168: 1461

There is more than metaphorical appeal to the thought that humanity feeds off the sweat of vascular plants. This statement has factual grounds in the sense that plant water loss by transpiration is an inevitable companion to the…


Extreme aridity pushes trees to their physical limits

Larter M, Brodribb TJ, Pfautsch S, Burlett R, Cochard H, Delzon S. Exreme Aridity Pushes Trees to their Physical Limits. Plant Physiology 168: 804-807

Drought-induced hydraulic failure is a leading cause of mortality of trees (McDowell et al., 2008; Anderegg et al., 2012) and has become a major concern in light of future climate predictions, with forests across the world showing signs of…