High-resolution computed tomography reveals dynamics of desiccation and rehydration in fern petioles of a desiccation-tolerant fern
desiccation tolerance, embolism repair, endodermis, microCT, Pentagramma triangularis, resurrection fern, xylary chloroplasts, xylem refilling
Desiccation-tolerant (DT) plants can dry past −100 MPa and subsequently recover function upon rehydration. Vascular DT plants face the unique challenges of desiccating and rehydrating complex tissues without causing structural damage. However, these dynamics have not been studied in intact DT plants. We used high resolution micro-computed tomography (microCT), light microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy to characterize the dynamics of tissue desiccation and rehydration in petioles (stipes) of intact DT ferns. During desiccation, xylem conduits in stipes embolized before cellular dehydration of living tissues within the vascular cylinder. During resurrection, the chlorenchyma and phloem within the stipe vascular cylinder rehydrated before xylem refilling. We identified unique stipe traits that may facilitate desiccation and resurrection of the vascular system, including xylem conduits containing pectin (which may confer flexibility and wettability); chloroplasts within the vascular cylinder; and an endodermal layer impregnated with hydrophobic substances that impede apoplastic leakage while facilitating the upward flow of water within the vascular cylinder. Resurrection ferns are a novel system for studying extreme dehydration recovery and embolism repair in the petioles of intact plants. The unique anatomical traits identified here may contribute to the spatial and temporal dynamics of water movement observed during desiccation and resurrection.
Holmlund, Helen I.; Pratt, R. Brandon; Jacobsen, Anna L.; Davis, Stephen D.; and Pittermann, Jarmila, "High-resolution computed tomography reveals dynamics of desiccation and rehydration in fern petioles of a desiccation-tolerant fern" (2019). Pepperdine University, Faculty Open Access Publications. Paper 77.