Comparison of electric and growth responses to excision in cucumber and pea seedlings. II. Long‐distance effects are caused by the release of xylem pressure


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Excision of a growing stem causes local wound responses, such as membrane depolarization and growth inhibition, as well as effects at larger distances from the cut. In this study, cucumber hypocotyls were excised 100mm below the hook, so that the growing region was beyond the reach of the wound‐induced depolarization (up to 40mm). Even at such a distance, the cut still caused a considerable and rapid drop in the hypocotyl growth rate. This growth response is not a direct wound response because it does not result from the cut‐induced depolarization and because it can be simulated by root pressure manipulation (using a pressure chamber). The results indicate that the growth response resulted from the rapid release of the xylem pressure upon excision. To test this conclusion we measured the xylem pressure by connecting a pressure probe to the cut surface of the stem. Xylem pressure (Px) was found to be +10 to +40kPa in cucumber hypocotyls and ‐5 to ‐10 kPa or lower in pea epicotyls. Excision of the cucumber hypocotyl base led to a rapid drop in Px to negative values, whereas excision in pea led to a rapid rise in Px to ambient (zero) pressure. These fast and opposite px changes parallel the excision‐induced changes in growth rate (GR): a decrease in cucumber and a rise in pea. The sign of the endogenous xylem pressure also determined whether excision induced a propagating depolarization in the form of a slow wave potential (SWP). Under normal circumstances pea seedlings generated an SWP upon excision whereas cucumber seedlings failed to do so. When the Px in cucumber hypocotyls was experimentally inverted to negative values by incubating the cumber roots in solutions of NaCN or n‐ethylmaleimide, excision caused a propagating depolarization (SWP). The experiment shows that only hydraulic signals in the form of positive Px steps are converted into propagating electric SWP signals. These propagating depolarizations might be causally linked to systemic ‘wound’ responses, which occur independently of the short‐distance or direct wound responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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