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J Exp Bot. 2007;58(15-16):4061-70. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erm262.

Guard cell apoplastic photosynthate accumulation corresponds to a phloem-loading mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4370, USA.


Apoplastic phloem loaders have an apoplastic step in the movement of the translocated sugar, prototypically sucrose, from the mesophyll to the companion cell-sieve tube element complex. In these plants, leaf apoplastic sucrose becomes concentrated in the guard cell wall to nominally 150 mM by transpiration during the photoperiod. This concentration of external sucrose is sufficient to diminish stomatal aperture size in an isolated system and to regulate expression of certain genes. In contrast to apoplastic phloem loaders and at the other extreme, strict symplastic phloem loaders lack an apoplastic step in phloem loading and mostly transport raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs), which are at low concentrations in the leaf apoplast. Here, the effects of the phloem-loading mechanism and associated phenomena on the immediate environment of guard cells are reported. As a first step, carbohydrate analyses of phloem exudates confirmed basil (Ocimum basilicum L. cv. Minimum) as a symplastic phloem-loading species. Then, aspects of stomatal physiology of basil were characterized to establish this plant as a symplastic phloem-loading model species for guard cell research. [(14)C]Mannitol fed via the cut petiole accumulated around guard cells, indicating a continuous leaf apoplast. The (RFO+sucrose+hexoses) concentrations in the leaf apoplast were low, <0.3 mM. Neither RFOs (<10 mM), sucrose, nor hexoses (all, P >0.2) were detectable in the guard cell wall. Thus, differences in phloem-loading mechanisms predict differences in the in planta regulatory environment of guard cells.

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