Young shoots from poplar cuttings (Populus euramericana cv ʻGhoyʼ) were artificially inclined to 30° from vertical to quantify the anatomical modifications induced by this gravitational stimulus. At the end of the growing season, the tension wood tissue (from the upper face of the inclined axis) was compared to the opposite wood tissue (from the lower face), with radial position taken into account. On isolated elements after maceration, fibres and vessels were significantly longer in tension wood tissue. In the cross section, the gelatinous fibres had a smaller radial diameter than normal fibres in opposite wood. Vessel frequency and porosity were significantly lower in tension wood than in opposite wood. Solitary vessels in tension wood were less circular in cross section than in opposite wood, but their surface area did not differ. Rays were more numerous in tension wood than in opposite wood but their height did not differ between the two tissue types. Finally, there was a negative correlation between the proportion of vessel lumina (lowest in tension wood) and the proportion of fibre lumina including the G layer. The very controlled nature of this experiment (greenhouse, young clonal material, detailed anatomical observations within one growth ring) and the image analysis technology (allowing a large number of observations) enabled us to draw conclusions that may not have been seen in less-controlled experiments and /or those with smaller sample sizes.
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