Wall relaxation in growing stems: comparison of four species and assessment of measurement techniques

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This study was carried out to develop improved methods for measuring in-vivo stress relaxation of growing tissues and to compare relaxation in the stems of four different species. When water uptake by growing tissue is prevented, in-vivo stress relaxation occurs because continued wall loosening reduces wall stress and cell turgor pressure. With this procedure one may measure the yield threshold for growth (Y), the turgor pressure in excess of the yield threshold (P-Y), and the physiological wall extensibility (φ{symbol}). Three relaxation techniques proved useful: "turgor-relaxation", "balance-pressure" and "pressure-block". In the turgor-relaxation method, water is withheld from growing tissue and the reduction in turgor is measured directly with the pressure probe. This technique give absolute values for P and Y, but requires tissue excision. In the balance-pressure technique, the excised growing region is sealed in a pressure chamber, and the subsequent reduction in water potential is measured as the applied pressure needed to return xylem sap to the cut surface. This method is simple, but only measures (P-Y) not the individual values of P and Y. In the pressure-block technique, the growing tissue is sealed into a pressure chamber, growth is monitored continuously, and just sufficient pressure is applied to the chamber to block growth. The method gives high-resolution kinetics of relaxation and does not require tissue excision, but only measures (P-Y). The three methods gave similar results when applied to the growing stems of pea (Pisum sativum L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) and zucchini (Curcubita pepo L.) seedlings. Values for (P-Y) averaged between 1.4 and 2.7 bar, depending on species. Yield thresholds averaged between 1.3 and 3.0 bar. Compared with the other methods, relaxation by pressure-block was faster and exhibited dynamic changes in wall-yielding properties. The two pressure-chamber methods were also used to measure the internal water-potential gradient (between the xylem and the epidermis) which drives water uptake for growth. For the four species it was small, between 0.3 and 0.6 bar, and so did not limit growth substantially.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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