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Physical nature of irreversible deformation of plant cells

Author(s): Lockhart JA


Etiolated mung bean hypocotyl segments were incubated in 0.25 m mannitol solutions with indoleacetic acid. They were then deformed mechanically with a longitudinal tensile force at a constant strain rate. The magnitudes of the mechanical forces were comparable to those of the hydrostatic forces existing in normally growing tissues. Each segment was repeatedly deformed and returned to zero force. The total deformation was increased at each cycle.The irreversible and elastic changes in length and diameter were measured for each deformation and the changes in surface area and volume calculated. In addition the applied stress and the work of irreversible and of elastic deformation were determined as functions of deformation.It was found that irreversible elongation, irreversible change in surface area and total change in surface area all were linear functions of total imposed elongation. However, very little change in volume occurred during the deformations.The work of irreversible deformation was found to be independent of temperature between 8 degrees and 25 degrees . It was also virtually independent of rate of deformation measured over a 5-fold range of deformation rates.From these results it is concluded that the irreversible deformation of mung bean hypocotyl tissue occurs by plastic deformation rather than by viscous flow. Thus, the irreversible deformation occurred as a result of breaking cross-links of a cross-linked polymer system.

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