When water uptake by growing cells is prevented, the turgor pressure and the tensile stress in the cell wall are reduced by continued wall loosening. This process, termed in vivo stress relaxation, provides a new way to study the dynamics of wall loosening and to measure the wall yield threshold and the physiological wall extensibility. Stress relaxation experiments indicate that wall stress supplies the mechanical driving force for wall yielding. Cell expansion also requires water absorption. The driving force for water uptake during growth is created by wall relaxation, which lowers the water potential of the expanding cells. New techniques for measuring this driving force show that it is smaller than believed previously; in elongating stems it is only 0.3 to 0.5 bar. This means that the hydraulic resistance of the water transport pathway is small and that rate of cell expansion is controlled primarily by wall loosening and yielding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science