The use of automated techniques for image analysis of microscopic wood specimens together with new procedures for the preparation of stained xylem tissue support the use of quantitative wood anatomy. These techniques and procedures are especially useful in the studies of retrospective analysis of xylem phenology, reaction(s) of trees to stressful conditions of growth, or reconstruction of long-term growth trends. The unresolved technical problems during the digitalization of cross sections from entire increment cores were stabilization and precise shifting of long microscopic specimens onto the optical microscope stage. For this reason, we have developed a long slide holder for microscope stages in two versions: the basic one allowing stabilization and manual shifting, and the advanced one for stabilization and mechanical shifting. Both versions of the adapter speed up the work with long slides, improving the quality of panoramic images of microscopic specimens.
Our study investigated the effect of stem temperature increase on xylem formation in Robinia pseudoacacia tree-trunks, caused by direct exposure to solar radiation. It is important to determine factors which may improve the concentricity of deposited wood tissue and intensify xylogenesis because a strong irregularity of wood tissue deposited in the radial direction in mature trees of R. pseudoacacia reduces the commercial value of the wood. Samples of vascular cambium along with adjacent tissues were collected from the southern (illuminated) and northern (shaded) side of tree-trunks growing in the inner and peripheral (thus exposed to direct sunlight) zones of the research plot. Sampling was performed several times during the growing season. The collected material was examined by epifluorescence microscopy and the thickness of deposited tissue comprising cambial xylem derivatives was measured. Deposition of a markedly greater amount of xylem on the southern side of tree-trunks in the peripheral zone of the plot was observed before full leaf development. Instrumental climatic data confirmed that in the early stage of the growing season, temperature on the southern side of the peripheral zone tree-trunk was higher than on the northern side. No clear response in terms of directional deposition of xylem was noticed in the inner zone trees and in peripheral zone trees after full leaf development. This study highlights the importance of temperature increase, caused by solar radiation, for R. pseudoacacia xylogenesis, which may be considered as a factor that affects the course of the radial growth before full leaf development.