All cell types of the secondary xylem arise from the meristematic cells (initials) of the vascular cambium and grow under mechanical constraints emerging from the circular-symmetrical geometry that characterises many tree trunks. The course of intrusive growth of cambial initials has been elucidated, but is yet to be described in the case of xylem fibres. This study explains the geometry of intrusive growth of the secondary xylem fibres in the trunk of Robinia pseudoacacia. Long series of serial semi-thin sections of the vascular cambium and the differentiating secondary xylem were analysed. Since fibres grow in close vicinity to expanding cells of the derivatives of the vascular cambium, we assumed that they have similar growth conditions. Dealing with the cylindrical tissue of the vascular cambium in a previous study, we used a circularly symmetrical equation for describing the growth mechanism of cambial initials. Like the cambial initials, some of the cambial derivatives differentiating into the various cell types composing the secondary xylem also exhibit intrusive growth between the tangential walls of adjacent cells. As seen in cross sections of the cambium, intrusively growing initials form slanted walls by a gradual transformation of tangential (periclinal) walls into radial (anticlinal) walls. Similarly, the intrusive growth of xylem fibres manifests initially as slants, which are formed due to axial growth of the growing cell tips along the tangential walls of adjacent cells. During this process, the tangential walls of adjacent cells are partly separated and dislocated from the tangential plane. The final shape of xylem fibres, or that of vessel elements and axial parenchyma cells, depends upon the ratio of their intrusive versus symplastic growths in the axial, circumferential and radial directions.
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.