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Trees are sessile organisms adapting continuously to changes in their environment, such as extreme weather conditions, pest disturbances and forest management practices. Anatomical studies on tree conductive tissues, i.e. xylem and phloem, may give in depth insights on these adaptation and functional ...

Trees are sessile organisms adapting continuously to changes in their environment, such as extreme weather conditions, pest disturbances and forest management practices. Anatomical studies on tree conductive tissues, i.e. xylem and phloem, may give in depth insights on these adaptation and functional processes. Indeed, xylem and phloem anatomy are optimized for increasing sap transport while minimizing the risk of hydraulic failure and, at the same time, providing mechanical support to the tree. All these trade-offs are tightly linked to environmental conditions. Furthermore, the xylem organization in annual tree-rings offers a precise timeline to study tree-environment relationships at annual-intraannual resolution over the entire life span of trees.

Several anatomical traits can be measured on xylem and phloem tissues such as cell number, cell lumen area and cell wall thickness. These traits have distinct environmental sensitivity and depend on specific morphogenetic processes that are temporally spaced over the spring/summer months. Wood anatomical traits can be analyzed in real time over the growing season (i.e. studies on xylogenetic processes) and retrospectively, computing radial profiles of anatomical features across the annual growth rings of a tree. These studies allow the precise identification of thermal and water constraints on tree growth. However, despite their potential, studies on quantitative wood anatomy have been limited in the past by the time required for anatomical analyses in the absence of standardized high-throughput systems for sample processing (including sample collection, sample pre-processing, microtomy, microscopy and image analysis). Today, these systems are becoming more and more standardized and available. As such, we are seeing an increasing interest in quantitative wood anatomy and an explosion of anatomical studies to improve the ecophysiological understanding of tree responses to global change.

Here, we welcome studies addressing all aspect of quantitative wood anatomy, such as:

• The relationships between anatomical traits and environmental forcing at annual-intraannual resolution (e.g. water-thermal-nutrient constraints on anatomy).
• The use of anatomical traits to analyze tree functioning (e.g. hydraulic conductivity and safety margin).
• The monitoring of xylem phenology and xylogenetic processes under climate change.
• The use of anatomical traits in dendroclimatic and ecological reconstructions.
• The new protocols and standardized methods in quantitative wood anatomy.
• The new technical advancements on measuring wood anatomical traits (e.g. 3D laser microscope).
• The environmental sensitivity of less commonly used anatomical traits, such as pit morphology.
• The upscaling of anatomical measurements to ecosystem level properties.
• The improvements on mechanistic understanding and modelling of xylem and phloem anatomical traits in the context of global change.

Keywords: tree rings, anatomical traits, plant-soil-atmosphere interactions, global change


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