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J Plant Physiol. 2009 Sep 15;166(14):1479-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 May 5.

Growth and functional responses of different cultivars of Lotus corniculatus to aluminum and low pH stress.

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Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Department of Plant Physiology, Dúbravská cesta 14, SK-84523 Bratislava, Slovakia.


Aluminum toxicity is an important stress factor in acid soils. Growth, respiration and permeability properties of root cells were studied in five cultivars of Lotus corniculatus subjected to aluminum (Al) or low pH stress. The cultivars showed significant differences in root elongation under stress conditions, which correlated with changes in membrane potential (E(M)) of root cortical cells. A pH drop from 5.5 to 4.0 resulted in significant membrane depolarization and root growth inhibition. The strongest inhibition was observed in cv. São Gabriel (33.6%) and least in cv. UFRGS (25.8%). Application of an extremely high Al concentration (2mM) stopped the root growth in cv. INIA Draco, while inhibition in cv. UFRGS reached only 75%. The E(M) values of cortical cells of Lotus roots varied between -115 and -144mV. Treatment with 250microM of AlCl(3) (pH 4) resulted in rapid membrane depolarization. The extent of the membrane depolarization ranged between 51mV (cv. UFGRS) and 16mV (cv. INIA Draco). The membrane depolarization was followed by a loss of K(+) from Al-treated roots (2mM Al) and resulted in a decrease of the diffusion potential (E(D)). The total amount of K(+) in Al-treated roots dropped from 31.4 to 16.8micromolg(-1) FW in sensitive cv. INIA Draco, or from 26.1 to 22.7micromolg(-1) FW in tolerant cv. UFGRS. The rate of root respiration under control conditions as well as under Al treatment was higher in cv. INIA Draco than in cv. UFRGS. Al-induced inhibition of root respiration was 21-34% of the control.

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