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Plant Physiol. 1985 Mar;77(3):676-86.

Control of Seed Germination by Abscisic Acid : III. Effect on Embryo Growth Potential (Minimum Turgor Pressure) and Growth Coefficient (Cell Wall Extensibility) in Brassica napus L.

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  • 1Biologisches Institut II der Universit√§t, Sch√§nzlestrasse 1, D 7800 Freiburg, West Germany.


The physical mechanism of seed germination and its inhibition by abscisic acid (ABA) in Brassica napus L. was investigated, using volumetric growth (= water uptake) rate (dV/dt), water conductance (L), cell wall extensibility coefficient (m), osmotic pressure ( product operator(i)), water potential (Psi(i)), turgor pressure (P), and minimum turgor for cell expansion (Y) of the intact embryo as experimental parameters. dV/dt, product operator(i), and Psi(i) were measured directly, while m, P, and Y were derived by calculation. Based on the general equation of hydraulic cell growth [dV/dt = Lm/(L + m) (Delta product operator - Y), where Delta product operator = product operator(i) - product operator of the external medium], the terms (Lm/(L + m) and product operator(i) - Y were defined as growth coefficient (k(G)) and growth potential (GP), respectively. Both k(G) and GP were estimated from curves relating dV/dt (steady state) to product operator of osmotic test solutions (polyethylene glycol 6000).During the imbibition phase (0-12 hours after sowing), k(G) remains very small while GP approaches a stable level of about 10 bar. During the subsequent growth phase of the embryo, k(G) increases about 10-fold. ABA, added before the onset of the growth phase, prevents the rise of k(G) and lowers GP. These effects are rapidly abolished when germination is induced by removal of ABA. Neither L (as judged from the kinetics of osmotic water efflux) nor the amount of extractable solutes are affected by these changes. product operator(i) and Psi(i) remain at a high level in the ABA-treated seed but drop upon induction of germination, and this adds up to a large decrease of P, indicating that water uptake of the germinating embryo is controlled by cell wall loosening rather than by changes of product operator(i) or L. ABA inhibits water uptake by preventing cell wall loosening. By calculating Y and m from the growth equation, it is further shown that cell wall loosening during germination comprises both a decrease of Y from about 10 to 0 bar and an at least 10-fold increase of m. ABA-mediated embryo dormancy is caused by a reversible inhibition of both of these changes in cell wall stability.

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