Allocation, stress tolerance and carbon transport in plants: How does phloem physiology affect plant ecology?

Jessica A. Savage, Michael J. Clearwater, Dustin F. Haines, Tamir Klein, Maurizio Mencuccini, Sanna Sevanto, Robert Turgeon, Cankui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Despite the crucial role of carbon transport in whole plant physiology and its impact on plant-environment interactions and ecosystem function, relatively little research has tried to examine how phloem physiology impacts plant ecology. In this review, we highlight several areas of active research where inquiry into phloem physiology has increased our understanding of whole plant function and ecological processes. We consider how xylem-phloem interactions impact plant drought tolerance and reproduction, how phloem transport influences carbon allocation in trees and carbon cycling in ecosystems and how phloem function mediates plant relations with insects, pests, microbes and symbiotes. We argue that in spite of challenges that exist in studying phloem physiology, it is critical that we consider the role of this dynamic vascular system when examining the relationship between plants and their biotic and abiotic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-725
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Carbon cycle
  • Defense
  • Drought
  • Growth
  • Phloem transport
  • Reproduction
  • Rhizosphere
  • Xylem transport


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