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Stress relaxation of cell walls and the yield threshold for growth

Author(s): Cosgrove DJ, Van Volkenburgh E, Cleland RE


Theory predicts that, for growing plant cells isolated from a supply of water, stress relaxation of the cell wall should decrease cell turgor pressure (P) until the yield threshold for cell explanation is reached. This prediction was tested by direct P measurements of pea (Pisum sativum L.) stem cortical cells before and after excision of the growing region and isolation of the growing tissue from an external water supply. Cell P was measured with the micro-pressure probe under conditions which eliminated transpiration. Psychrometric measurements of water potential confirmed the pressure-probe measurements. Following excision, P of the growing cells decreased in 1 h by an average of 1.8 bar to a mean plateau value of 2.8 bar, and remained constant thereafter. Treatment with 10(-5) M indole-3-acetic acid or 10(-5) M fusicoccin (known growth stimulants) accelerated the rate of P relaxation, whereas various treatments which inhibit growth slowed down or completely stopped P relaxation in apical segments. In contrast, P of basal (nongrowing) segments gradually increased because of absorption of solutes from the cell-wall free space of the tissue. Such solute absorption also occurred in apical segments, but wall relaxation held P at the yield threshold in those segments which were isolated from an external water supply. These results provide a new and rapid method for measuring the yield threshold and they show that P in intact growing pea stems exceeds the yield threshold by about 2 bar. Wall relaxation is shown here to affect the water potential and turgor pressure of excised growing segments. In addition, solute release and absorption upon excision may influence the water potential and turgor pressure of nongrowing excised plant tissues.

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