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Plant Physiol. 2007 Jan;143(1):68-77. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Modification of leaf apoplastic pH in relation to stomatal sensitivity to root-sourced abscisic acid signals.

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State Key Laboratory of Plant Biochemistry, Department of Horticulture, College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100094, China.


The confocal microscope was used to determine the pH of the leaf apoplast and the pH of microvolumes of xylem sap. We quantified variation in leaf apoplast and sap pH in relation to changes in edaphic and atmospheric conditions that impacted on stomatal sensitivity to a root-sourced abscisic acid signal. Several plant species showed significant changes in the pH of both xylem sap and the apoplast of the shoot in response to environmental perturbation. Xylem sap leaving the root was generally more acidic than sap in the midrib and the apoplast of the leaf. Increasing the transpiration rate of both intact plants and detached plant parts resulted in more acidic leaf apoplast pHs. Experiments with inhibitors suggested that protons are removed from xylem sap as it moves up the plant, thereby alkalinizing the sap. The more rapid the transpiration rate and the shorter the time that the sap resided in the xylem/apoplastic pathway, the smaller the impact of proton removal on sap pH. Sap pH of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Commelina communis did not change significantly as soil dried, while pH of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) sap increased as water availability in the soil declined. Increasing the availability of nitrate to roots also significantly alkalinized the xylem sap of tomato plants. This nitrogen treatment had the effect of enhancing the sensitivity of the stomatal response to soil drying. These responses were interpreted as an effect of nitrate addition on sap pH and closure of stomata via an abscisic acid-based mechanism.

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