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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 25;6(4):e18549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018549.

Regulator or driving force? The role of turgor pressure in oscillatory plant cell growth.

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Department of Physiology, Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Turgor generates the stress that leads to the expansion of plant cell walls during cellular growth. This has been formalized by the Lockhart equation, which can be derived from the physical laws of the deformation of viscoelastic materials. However, the experimental evidence for such a direct correlation between growth rate and turgor is inconclusive. This has led to challenges of the Lockhart model. We model the oscillatory growth of pollen tubes to investigate this relationship. We couple the Lockhart equation to the dynamical equations for the change in material properties. We find that the correct implementation of the Lockhart equation within a feedback loop leading to low amplitude oscillatory growth predicts that in this system changes in the global turgor do not influence the average growth rate in a linear manner, consistent with experimental observations. An analytic analysis of our model demonstrates in which regime the average growth rate becomes uncorrelated from the turgor pressure.

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