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Plant Physiol. 1985 Jan;77(1):148-56.

Diurnal water balance of the cowpea fruit.

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Department of Botany, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.


The vascular network of the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.) fruit exhibits the anatomical potential for reversible xylem flow between seeds, pod, and parent plant. Feeding of cut shoots with the apoplast marker acid fuchsin showed that fruits imported regularly via xylem at night, less frequently in early morning, and only rarely in the afternoon. The dye never entered seeds or inner dorsal pod strands connecting directly to seeds. Root feeding (early morning) of intact plants with (32)PO(4) or (3)H(2)O rapidly (20 min) labeled pod walls but not seeds, consistent with uptake through xylem. Weak subsequent (4 hours) labeling of seeds suggested slow secondary exchange of label with the phloem stream to the fruit. Vein flap feeding of subtending leaves with [(14)C]sucrose, (3)H(2)O, and (32)PO(4) labeled pod and seed intensely, indicating mass flow in phloem to the fruit. Over 90% of the (14)C and (3)H of fruit cryopuncture phloem sap was as sucrose and water, respectively. Specific (3)H activities of transpired water collected from fruits and peduncles were assayed over 4 days after feeding (3)H(2)O to roots, via leaf flaps, or directly to fruits. The data indicated that fruits transpired relatively less xylem-derived (apoplastic) water than did peduncles, that fruit and peduncle relied more heavily on phloem-derived (symplastic) water for transpiration in the day than at night, and that water diffusing back from the fruit was utilized in peduncle transpiration, especially during the day. The data collectively support the hypothesis of a diurnally reversing xylem flow between developing fruit and plant.

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