Meeting: Reconciling Methodological Discrepancies in the Measurement of Hydraulic Vulnerability to Embolism
This workshop addresses a pressing and fundamental topic in plant hydraulics, how we accurately measure hydraulic vulnerability to embolism. The field of plant hydraulics has become increasingly invoked to link plant functioning with changes in climate and plant hydraulics data is critical for improving process-based models of plant and ecosystem responses to climate change. The current discrepancies are not trivial and have hindered plant hydraulics through declined manuscripts, unsubmitted or unfunded grant proposals, and an avoidance of groundbreaking research that utilizes plant hydraulic measurements. Most importantly, this workshop will allow the interpretation of future studies to not be mired in debate about methodology but instead be considered for their scientific value to the discipline. In addition to advancing scientific methodology, this workshop will train up to 5 postdoctoral researchers and 8 students (graduate and undergraduate) in the best practices for five frequently used methods to measure plant hydraulics thus improving future scientific outputs that involve plant hydraulic measurements.
Additionally, this workshop will allow for collaboration of researchers who come from many diverse backgrounds, including at least 9 women and individuals from five different countries. Plant hydraulics, the study of how plants move and manage water, has become an invaluable realm of science that has been invoked to address critical questions across spatial scales and biological disciplines. Particularly, advances in methodologies that allow scientists to efficiently derive hydraulic vulnerability curves in the laboratory have greatly advanced our understanding of plant functioning. Despite these methodological advances, several recent publications (e.g. Choat et al. 2010, Cochard et al. 2013, Jansen et al. 2015) have suggested that some of the most commonly used measurement methods give varying results, and thus the discipline is currently challenged with reconciling these differences.
Due to these conflicting reports about methodologies, the scientific community is at an opportunistic moment to advance past these challenges by addressing all current methodologies in a focused and inclusive study. This workshop will use five methods to develop vulnerability curves on species that span wood anatomy and include species that have previously shown varying results depending on the method used. This methodology will allow for resolution of the influence of anatomical differences on discrepancies across the four methods requiring excised plant material and link these results to imaging of live plants using high-resolution computed tomography (HRC. Specifically this workshop will develop hydraulic vulnerability curves using bench dehydration, air injection, static centrifuge, and acoustic emission coupled with HRCT imaging on intact plant samples of four species to come to a consensus about these discrepancies and best practices for future research methods.