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Ann Bot. 2005 May;95(6):967-79. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Turgor pressure moves polysaccharides into growing cell walls of Chara corallina.

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  • 1College of Marine Studies and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE 19958, USA.



Plant growth involves pressure-driven cell enlargement generally accompanied by deposition of new cell wall. New polysaccharides are secreted by the plasma membrane but their subsequent entry into the wall is obscure. Therefore, polysaccharides and gold colloids of various sizes were presented to the inner wall face as though they were secreted by the plasma membrane.


Primary cell walls were isolated from growing internodes of Chara corallina and one end was attached to a glass capillary. Solutions of dextran or suspensions of gold colloids were pushed into the lumen by oil in the capillary. The oil did not enter the wall, and the solution or suspension was pressed against the inner wall face, pressurized at various 'artificial' P (turgor pressure), and polymer or colloid movement through the wall was monitored.


Interstices in the wall matrix had a diameter of about 4.6 nm measured at high P with gold colloids. Small solute (0.8 nm) readily moved through these interstices unaffected by P. Dextrans of 3.5 nm diameter moved faster at higher P while dextran of 9 nm scarcely entered unless high P was present. Dextran of 11 nm did not enter unless P was above a threshold, and dextran of 27 nm did not enter at P as high as 0.5 MPa. The walls filtered the dextrans, which became concentrated against the inner wall face, and most polymer movement occurred after P stabilized and bulk flow ended.


P created a steep gradient in concentration and mechanical force at the inner wall face that moved large polymers into small wall openings apparently by starting a polymer end or deforming the polymer mechanically at the inner wall face. This movement occurred at P generally accepted to extend the walls for growth.

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