Morphology, water relations, and xylem anatomy of high-light (sun)- and low-light (shade)-grown Vitis vinifera L. shoots were studied to determine the effects of shading on the hydraulic conductance of the pathway for water flow from the roots to the leaves. Shade shoots developed leaf area ratios (leaf area: plant dry weight) that were nearly threefold greater than sun shoots. Water-potential gradients (??·m-1) in the shoot xylem accounted for most of the ??·m-1 between soil and shoot apex at low and high transpiration rates in both sun and shade shoots, but the gradients were two- to fourfold greater in shade-grown plants. Low light reduced xylem conduit number in petioles, but had an additional slight effect on conduit diameter in internodes. The hydraulic conductance per unit length (Kh) and the specific hydraulic conductivity (ks, i.e. Kh per xylem cross-sectional area) of internodes, leaf petioles, and leaf laminae at different developmental stages leaf plastochron index was calculated from measurements of water potential and water flow in intact plants, from flow through excised organs, and from vessel and tracheid lumen diameters according to Hagen-Poiseuille's equation. For all methods and conductance parameters, the propensity to transport water to sink leaves was severalfold greater in internodes than in petioles. The Kh and ks increased logarithmically until growth ceased, independent of treatment and measurement method, and increased further in pressurized-flow experiments and Hagen-Poiseuille predictions. However, the increase was less in shade internodes than in sun internodes. Mature internodes of shade-grown plants had a two- to fourfold reduced Kh and significantly lower ks than sun internodes. Except very early in development, leaf lamina conductance and ks from shade-grown plants was also reduced. The strong reduction in Kh with only a slight reduction in leaf area (17% of sun shoots) in the shade shoots indicated a decoupling of water-transport capacity from the transpirational surface supplied by that capacity. This decoupling resulted in strongly reduced leaf specific conductivities and Huber values for both internodes and petioles, which may increase the likelihood of cavitation under conditions of high evaporative demand or soil drought.
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