The Cohesion Tension Theory, first in 1894 introduced by Dixon and Joly is the theory most often invoked to explain water movement in a transpiring plant. The pressure chamber technique has provided the strongest indirect evidence for this theory. However, controversy remains because 1) the necessary pressure gradients in xylem vessels have never been measured directly; 2) it is uncertain how continuous water columns under great tensions could persist in a metastable state for extended periods of time, and; 3) direct pressure probe measurements on individual xylem vessels have not been indicative of the extreme negative pressures obtained with the pressure chamber. Xylem fluid is an energy-limited resource containing the lowest available carbon (energy content = 2 to 15 J/cm3) of any plant tissue. However, many species of xylophagous leafhoppers subsist entirely on this dilute food source, despite the negative pressures thought to occur in xylem vessels. Carbon limitations of leafhoppers were underscored by 1) high feeding rates; 2) an unprecedented assimilation efficiency of organic compounds (i.e., >99%); 3) ammonotelism, and; 4) synchronization of feeding to optimum host nutrient content both seasonally and diurnally. The maximum tension that can be generated by the cibarial pumping mechanism of an insect based on anatomy and biochemistry is about 0.3 to 0.6 MPa, far below the purported xylem tensions occurring during most daylight hours. By contrast, we have shown that feeding has been usually independent of xylem tensions, as measured with a pressure chamber, and instead was a function of the amide content of xylem fluid. Moreover, the calculated net energy gain of insect feeding (or that contained within insect biomass) on xylem fluid of a given composition under a given tension have also been an a paradox. Experiments will be described that provide insight into the energetics of xylem fluid extraction.
Homalodisca coagulata (Say), a xylem-fluid feeding leafhopper, vectors diseases induced by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa such as phony peach disease and Pierce's disease. The purpose of this study was to investigate plant factors that influence feeding. H. coagulata were confined to stems of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] and crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica L.). Osmolarity, amino acid and organic acid concentrations of xylem fluid were maximum during the morning for peach and declined thereafter; xylem fluid chemistry of crape myrtle followed a less distinct trend. Irrigated plants had higher concentrations of organic constituents and feeding rates were higher on these plants. Feeding rates and xylem fluid tensions, were maximum during midday; feeding did not occur at night. In separate experiments feeding rates were greatly reduced at xylem tensions >1.5 MPa.
Three separate factorial experiments were designed to evaluate the effect of 10 adjuvants on net CO2 assimilation rate (A), leaf conductance to water vapor (g1), and transpiration rate (E) of pecan [Carya illinoensis (Wagenh.) C. Koch] ‘Elliott’, blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) ‘Chaucer’, red top photinia (Photinia × Fraseri Dress), and azalea (Rhododendron × ‘Pink Ruffles’). Single applications of Bond, Leaf Act 80A, Nu-Film-17, Ortho X-77, Penetrator 3, Plyac, Sorba Spray ZNP, Sun Spray 7E, Triton CS-7, or Triton B-1956 at recommended rates did not affect A, g1, or E compared to a water spray. The main effect of plant species was highly significant in all three studies without adjuvant-species interactions. A significant adjuvant effect on A occurred with a second application of Nu-Film-17, Plyac, and Triton B-1956. The only significant effect, when treatments were analyzed separately by species, was that A of Plyac-treated blueberry was less than the control.