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Review of: secondary xylem biology.

Review of: Secondary Xylem Biology. Origins, Function, and Applications. Yoon Soo Kim, Ryo Funada, and Adya P. Singh, eds

Academic Press, London. 397 p

The title may mislead some into thinking that this is a general book on wood anatomy and function. Indeed, no single-volume work could serve as an introduction to all aspects of wood. What Kim, Funada, and Sigh have done is better and more practical than an umbrella textbook. It offers a series of 17 monographs reporting recent work, with no fewer than 52 authors participating. Obviously, some topics are not covered, but that is less important than the fact that any student of wood structure or function is likely to find some topic the coverage of which will enhance his/her knowledge, because the authors are expert, and each chapter cites extensive pertinent references. The chapter are ranged into four groupings: I, Development of Secondary Xylem; II, Function and Pathogen Resistance; III, Economic Application of Secondary Xylem; and IV, Advanced Techniques for Studying Secondary Xylem. One of the chapters does not concern xylem at all; rather, it concerns bamboos, which have no secondary growth. This inclusion is understandable in view of the enormous economic importance of bamboos for structural and other purposes.

Today we have become accustomed to papers, chapters, and books with multiple authors, a procedure that was unusual 50 years ago. In fact, the four chapters in this book that were written by sole authors prove to be especially good and worth mentioning. Frank Telewski's chapter on flexure wood (wood produced in respond to wind that does injure wood irreversibly) is an expert summary of work on thigmomorphogenesis. Yuzou Sano's chapter on bordered pit structure and resistance to cavitation is worthy of a wide audience, because it covers structures and processes basic to the successful functioning of wood. Geoffrey Daniels offers an extensive study of fungal degradation of cell walls, and in the process, we learn more about wood well walls, their chemistry and structure. Geoffrey Daniels also offers a long chapter on wood microtechnique. Because microtechnique tends to be a matter of personal inventiveness and preference, this chapter will be useful as a monograph from which to draw information on a variety of techniques, a compilation that should provide a valuable resource.

The chapters authored by two or more authors are, of course, equally valuable, because of their extensive references and coverage of current concepts. Chapters on genetic modification of woody species and bioconversion (use of woods as an energy source, enzymatic hydrolysis) demonstrate the concern throughout this volume for applied research. A chapter on preservation of cultural heritage objects (e.g., wooden sculptures, buildings) comes as a pleasant surprise; one wishes more information were given on preservation methods and what effective practices in xylaria have been. With collection of wood samples throughout the world decreasing because of collecting restrictions, xylaria become of increased importance. The first chapter, "The vascular cambium of trees and its involvement in defining xylem anatomy," has spotty coverage of what ought to be a book-length introduction to xylem. The coverage on growth at the Arctic Circle, on regeneration after wounding, and on two peculiar wood structural phenomena (storied wood and tile cells) tends to remind one more of what is not (and probably cannot be) included in a research volume these days. One wonders how younger workers are being introduced to the many and complex issues of wood structure and technology these days, and what books they seek for instruction.

The table of contents follows a style in which headings are listed (and pagination given) within each chapter--a very good idea. The editors deserve congratulation for drawing together such a diverse set of treatises from so many authors, maximizing recent work while minimizing duplication of concepts and information among chapters. The copyediting has been very carefully done. Color photographs are featured in a number of the chapters, and these are very nicely done, as are the line drawings. The black-and-white illustrations tend to dull gray tones, and a number of illustrations have been reduced too much in scale, perhaps in an attempt to keep the book within reasonable limits. This book is, however, definitely recommended because it covers so much recent literature and discusses topics otherwise not covered in book form.

DOI 10.1007/s12229-016-9170-1

Sherwin Carlquist (1,2)

(1) Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA

(2) Author for Correspondence; e-mail:

Published online: 10 June 2016
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Title Annotation:Secondary Xylem Biology: Origins, Function, and Applications
Author:Carlquist, Sherwin
Publication:The Botanical Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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