Gravitropism of cucumber hypocotyls: biophysical mechanism of altered growth

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Abstract. The biophysical basis for the changes in cell elongation rate during gravitropism was examined in aetiolated cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) hypocotyls. Bulk osmotic pressures on the two sides of the stem and in the epidermal cells were not altered during the early time course of gravitropism. By the pressureprobe technique, a small increase in turgor (0.3 bar, 30 kPa) was detected on the upper (inhibited) side, whereas there was a negligible decrease in turgor on the lower (stimulated) side. These small changes in turgor and water potential appeared to be indirect, passive consequences of the altered growth and the small resistance for water movement from the xylem, and indicated that the change in growth was principally due to changes in wall properties. The results indicate that the hydraulic conductance of the watertransport pathway was large (.25 h 1 bar 1) and the water potential difference supporting cell expansion was no greater than 0.3 bar (30 kPa). From pressureblock experiments, it appeared that upon gravitropic stimulation (1) the yield threshold of the lower half of the stem did not decrease and (2) the wall on the upper side of the stem was not made more rigid by a cross‐linking process. Mechanical measurements of the stress/strain properties of the walls showed that the initial development of gravitropism did not involve an alteration of the mechanical behaviour of the isolated walls. Thus, gravitropism in cucumber hypocotyls occurs principally by an alteration of the wall relaxation process, without a necessary change in wall mechanical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-241
Number of pages7
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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