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Decreased growth-induced water potential. A primary cause of growth inhibition at low water potentials

Nonami, H., Wu, Y., Boyer, J.S.
Plant physiology 1997 v.114 no.2 pp. 501-509
Glycine max, cell growth, stems, developmental stages, water stress, cells, xylem, roots, hydraulic conductivity, root water potential, measurement
Cell enlargement depends on a growth-induced difference in water potential to move water into the cells. Water deficits decrease this potential difference and inhibit growth. To investigate whether the decrease causes the growth inhibition, pressure wasapplied to the roots of soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) seedlings and the growth and potential difference were monitored in the stems. In water-limited plants, the inhibited stem growth increased when the roots were pressurized and it reverted to the previous rate when the pressure was released. The pressure around the roots was perceived as an increased turgor in the stem in small cells next to the xylem, but not in outlying cortical cells. This local effect implied that water transport was impeded by the small cells. The diffusivity for water was much less in the small cells than in the outlying cells. The small cells thus were a barrier that caused the growth-induced potential difference to be large during rapid growth, but to reverse locally during the early part of a water deficit. Such a barrier may be a frequent property of meristems. Because stem growth responded to the pressure-induced recovery of the potential difference across this barrier, we conclude that a decrease in the growth-induced potential difference was a primary cause of the inhibition.