Comparison of electric and growth responses to excision in cucumber and pea seedlings. I. Short‐distance effects are a result of wounding


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The local electric response to stem excision in both pea epicotyls and cucumber hypocotyls is a depolarization of the cells in the wound area. If we define wound area as the region of local depolarization, we find that it extends for approximately 10 mm from the cut or wound site in pea epicotyls, whereas it can reach up to 40 mm in cucumber hypocotyls. The wound‐induced depolarization in pea cells is transient, reaching its maximal amplitude within 1–2 min, whereas in cucumber cells this depolarization is more sustained. A third difference between wound responses in pea and cucumber is the intermittent appearance of spikes, i.e. very short, rapidly reverted depolarizations which frequently accompany the basic depolarization in cucumber but not in pea cells. These spikes can propagate in both directions along the hypocotyl axis. The cause of the different responses of pea and cucumber cells is unknown. A possible explanation might be found in different degrees of electrical cell coupling in the two species. This possibility was investigated in cucumber hypocotyls by measuring the cell input resistance (Rin) of epidermal cells at various axial distances from the cut. Shorter distances increase the likelihood of shunting the cell membrane resistance through the shortened symplastic path to the cut surface. With a series of cuts made at decreasing distances from the measured site, cell depolarization increased without comparable changes in Rin. Two conclusions were drawn. Firstly, wound‐induced depolarizations are not brought about by shunting of the cell resistance in the wound area. Secondly, the depolarization is probably not carried by ion channels but may be caused by an inhibition of proton pump activity. Parallel to its depolarizing effect on the membrane potential, excision led to a severe and sustained decline in the cucumber hypocotyl growth rate only when carried out sufficiently close to the growing region (45 mm from the hook). Similar excision in pea epicotyls failed to change the growth rate. Both electrical and growth data support the concept that the high and sustained responsiveness of cucumber seedlings to wounding is caused by a particular sensitivity of their proton pump mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1151
Number of pages9
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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