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Plant J. 2004 Feb;37(4):578-88.

ABA depolarizes guard cells in intact plants, through a transient activation of R- and S-type anion channels.

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Julius-von-Sachs-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie und Biophysik, Universität Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 2, D-97082, Germany.


During drought, the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) induces rapid stomatal closure and in turn reduces transpiration. Stomatal closure is accompanied by large ion fluxes across the plasma membrane, carried by K+ and anion channels. We recorded changes in the activity of these channels induced by ABA, for guard cells of intact Vicia faba plants. Guard cells in their natural environment were impaled with double-barrelled electrodes, and ABA was applied via the leaf surface. In 45 out of 85 cells tested, ABA triggered a transient depolarization of the plasma membrane. In these cells, the membrane potential partially recovered in the presence of ABA; however, a full recovery of the membrane potentials was only observed after removal of ABA. Repetitive ABA responses could be evoked in single cells, but the magnitude of the response varied from one hormone application to the other. The transient depolarization correlated with the activation of anion channels, which peaked 5 min after introduction of the stimulus. In guard cells with a moderate increase in plasma membrane conductance (DeltaG < 5 nS), ABA predominantly activated voltage-independent (slow (S)-type) anion channels. During strong responses (DeltaG > 5 nS), however, ABA activated voltage-dependent (rapid (R)-type) in addition to S-type anion channels. We conclude that the combined activation of these two channel types leads to the transient depolarization of guard cells. The nature of this ABA response correlates with the transient extrusion of Cl- from guard cells and a rapid but confined reduction in stomatal aperture.

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