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Plant Physiol. 1993 Dec;103(4):1369-1375.

Long-Distance Water Transport in Aquatic Plants.

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  • 1Freshwater Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Helsingorsgade 51, DK-3400 Hillerod, Denmark.


Acropetal mass flow of water is demonstrated in two submerged angiosperms, Lobelia dortmanna L. and Sparganium emersum Rehman by means of guttation measurements. Transpiration is absent in truly submerged plants, but the presence of guttation verifies that long-distance water transport takes place. Use of tritiated water showed that the water current arises from the roots, and the main flow of water is channeled to the youngest leaves. This was confirmed by measurement of guttation, which showed the highest rates in young leaves. Guttation rates were 10-fold larger in the youngest leaf of S. emersum (2.1 [mu]L leaf-1 h-1) compared with the youngest leaf of L. dortmanna (0.2 [mu]L leaf-1 h-1). This is probably due to profound species differences in the hydraulic conductance (2.7 x 10-17 m4 Pa-1 s-1 for S. emersum and 1.4 x 10-19 m4 Pa-1 s-1 for L. dortmanna). Estimates derived from the modified Hagen-Poiseuille equation showed that the maximum flow velocity in xylem vessels was 23 to 84 cm h-1, and the required root pressure to drive the flow was small compared to that commonly found in terrestrial plants. In S. emersum long-distance transport of water was shown to be dependent on energy conversion in the roots. The leaves ceased to guttate when the roots were cooled to 4[deg]C from the acclimatization level at 15[deg]C, whereas the guttation was stimulated when the temperature was increased to 25[deg]C. Also, the guttation rate decreased significantly when vanadate was added to the root medium. The observed water transport is probably a general phenomenon in submerged plants, where it can act as a translocation system for nutrients taken up from the rich root medium and thereby assure maximum growth.

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