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J Exp Bot. 2000 Sep;51(350):1575-84.

Endogenous ABA maintains shoot growth in tomato independently of effects on plant water balance: evidence for an interaction with ethylene.

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Department of Agronomy, Plant Sciences Unit, 1-87 Agriculture Building, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


To examine whether the reduced shoot growth of abscisic acid (ABA)-deficient mutants of tomato is independent of effects on plant water balance, flacca and notabilis were grown under controlled-humidity conditions so that their leaf water potentials were equal to or higher than those of well-watered wild-type plants throughout development. Most parameters of shoot growth remained markedly impaired and root growth was also greatly reduced. Additional experiments with flacca showed that shoot growth substantially recovered when wild-type levels of ABA were restored by treatment with exogenous ABA, even though improvement in leaf water potential was prevented. The ability of applied ABA to increase growth was greatest for leaf expansion, which was restored by 75%. The ethylene evolution rate of growing leaves was doubled in flacca compared to the wild type and treatment with silver thiosulphate to inhibit ethylene action partially restored shoot growth. The results demonstrate that normal levels of endogenous ABA are required to maintain shoot development, particularly leaf expansion, in well-watered tomato plants, independently of effects on plant water balance. The impairment of shoot growth caused by ABA deficiency is at least partly attributable to ethylene.

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