Water Filtration Using Plant Xylem
a) Structure of xylem vessels in flowering plants and tracheids in conifers. Longer length of the vessels can provide pathways that can bypass filtration through pit membranes that decorate their circumference. b) Photograph of ∼1 cm diameter pine (pinus strobus) branch used in the present study. c) Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of cut section showing tracheid cross section and lengthwise profile. Scale bar is 40 µm. d) SEM image showing pits and pit membranes. Scale bar is 20 µm. e) Pit membrane with inset showing a cartoon of the pit cross-section. The pit cover has been sliced away to reveal the permeable margo surrounding the impermeable torus. Arrow indicates observed hole-like structures that may be defects. The margo comprises radial spoke-like structures that suspend the torus, which are only barely visible overlaying the cell wall in the background. Scale bar is 1 µm. f) Dependence of area amplification, defined as the pit membrane area divided by the nominal filter area, on the tracheid aspect ratio L/D and fractional area α occupied by pit membranes.