Water retained in tall Cryptomeria japonica leaves as studied by infrared micro-spectroscopy

Wakana Azuma, Satoru Nakashima, Eri Yamakita, H. Roaki Ishii, Keiko Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies in the tallest tree species suggest that physiological and anatomical traits of tree-top leaves are adapted to waterlimited conditions. In order to examine water retention mechanism of leaves in a tall tree, infrared (IR) micro-spectroscopy was conducted on mature leaf cross-sections of tall Cryptomeria japonica D. Don from four different heights (51, 43, 31 and 19 m). We measured IR transmission spectra and mainly analyzed OH (3700-3000 cm-1) and C-O (1190-845 cm-1) absorption bands, indicating water molecules and sugar groups, respectively. The changes in IR spectra of leaf sections from different heights were compared with bulk-leaf hydraulics. Both average OH band area of the leaf sections and leaf water content were larger in the upper-crown, while osmotic potential at saturation did not vary with height, suggesting higher dissolved sugar contents of upper-crown leaves. As cell-wall is the main cellular structure of leaves, we inferred that larger average C-O band area of uppercrown leaves reflected higher content of structural polysaccharides such as cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin. Infrared microspectroscopic imaging showed that the OH and C-O band areas are large in the vascular bundle, transfusion tissue and epidermis. Infrared spectra of individual tissue showed that much more water is retained in vascular bundle and transfusion tissue than mesophyll. These results demonstrate that IR micro-spectroscopy is a powerful tool for visualizing detailed, quantitative information on the spatial distribution of chemical substances within plant tissues, which cannot be done using conventional methods like histochemical staining. The OH band could be well reproduced by four Gaussian OH components around 3530 (free water: long H bond), 3410 (pectin-like OH species), 3310 (cellulose-like OH species) and 3210 (bound water: short H bond) cm-1, and all of these OH components were higher in the upper crown while their relative proportions did not vary with height. Based on the spectral analyses, we inferred that polysaccharides play a key role in biomolecular retention of water in leaves of tall C. japonica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1378
Number of pages12
JournalTree physiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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