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    Societal Impact Statement

    Drought plays a conspicuous role in forest mortality, and is expected to become more severe in future climate scenarios. Recent surges in drought‐associated forest tree mortality have been documented worldwide. For example, recent droughts in California and Texas killed approximately 129 million and 300 million trees, respectively. Drought has also induced acute pine tree mortality across east‐central China, and across extensive areas in southwest China. Understanding the biological processes that enable trees to modify wood development to mitigate the adverse effects of drought will be crucial for the development of successful strategies for future forest management and conservation.


    Drought is a recurrent stress to forests, causing periodic forest mortality with enormous economic and environmental costs. Wood is the water‐conducting tissue of tree stems, and trees modify wood development to create anatomical features and hydraulic properties that can mitigate drought stress. This modification of wood development can be seen in tree rings where not only the amount of wood but also the morphology of the water‐conducting cells are modified in response to environmental conditions. In this review, we provide an overview of how trees conduct water, and how trees modify wood development to affect water conduction properties in response to drought. We discuss key needs for new research, and how new knowledge of wood formation can play a role in the conservation of forests under threat by climate change.

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    Rodriguez‐Zaccaro, F. Daniela; Groover, Andrew. 2019. Wood and water: How trees modify wood development to cope with drought. Plants, People, Planet. 29(2): 203.


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    drought, abiotic stress, forest trees

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