The physical characteristics which govern the water relations of the giant-celled sporangiophore of Phycomyces blakesleeanus were measured with the pressure probe technique and with nanoliter osmometry. These properties are important because they govern water uptake associated with cell growth and because they may influence expansion of the sporangiophore wall. Turgor pressure ranged from 1.1 to 6.6 bars (mean = 4.1 bars), and was the same for stage I and stage IV sporangiophores. Sporangiophore osmotic pressure averaged 11.5 bars. From the difference between cell osmotic pressure and turgor pressure, the average water potential of the sporangiophore was calculated to be about -7.4 bars. When sporangiophores were submerged under water, turgor remained nearly constant. We propose that the low cell turgor pressure is due to solutes in the cell wall solution, i.e., between the cuticle and the plasma membrane. Membrane hydraulic conductivity averaged 4.6 x 10(-6) cm s-1 bar-1, and was significantly greater in stage I sporangiophores than in stage IV sporangiophores. Contrary to previous reports, the sporangiophore is separated from the supporting mycelium by septa which prevent bulk volume flow between the two regions. The presence of a wall compartment between the cuticle and the plasma membrane results in anomalous osmosis during pressure clamp measurements. This behavior arises because of changes in solute concentration as water moves into or out of the wall compartment surrounding the sporangiophore. Theoretical analysis shows how the equations governing transient water flow are altered by the characteristics of the cell wall compartment.
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