Induction and ionic basis of slow wave potentials in seedlings of Pisum sativum L.

Rainer Stahlberg, Daniel J. Cosgrove

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Slow wave potentials (SWPs) are transient depolarizations which propagate substantial distances from their point of origin. They were induced in the epidermal cells of pea epicotyls by injurious methods such as root excision and heat treatment, as well as by externally applied, defined steps in xylem pressure (P(x)) in the absence of wounding. The common principle of induction was a rapid increase in P(x). Such a stimulus appeared under natural conditions after (i) bending of the epicotyl, (ii) wounding of the epidermis, (iii) rewatering of dehydrated roots, and (iv) embolism. The induced depolarization was not associated with a change in cell input resistance. This result and the ineffectiveness of ion channel blockers point to H+-pumps rather than ion channels as the ionic basis of the SWP. Stimuli such as excision, heat treatment and pressure steps, which generate SWPs, caused a transient increase in the fluorescence intensity of epicotyls loaded with the pH-indicator DM-NERF, a 2',7'-dimethyl derivative of rhodol, but not of those loaded with the pH indicator 2',7'-bis(2-carboxyethyl)-5-(and-6)- carboxyfluorescein (BCECF). Matching kinetics of depolarization and pH response identify a transient inactivation of proton pumps in the plasma membrane as the causal mechanism of the SWP. Feeding pump inhibitors to the cut surface of excised epicotyls failed to chemically simulate a SWP; cyanide, azide and 2,4-dinitrophenol caused sustained, local depolarizations which did not propagate. Of all tested substances, only sodium cholate caused a transient and propagating depolarization whose arrival in the growing region of the epicotyl coincided with a transient growth rate reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-425
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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