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Plant J. 2013 Feb;73(3):509-20. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12042. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

In vivo extraction of Arabidopsis cell turgor pressure using nanoindentation in conjunction with finite element modeling.

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Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, W342 Nebraska Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0526, USA.


Turgor pressure in plant cells is involved in many important processes. Stable and normal turgor pressure is required for healthy growth of a plant, and changes in turgor pressure are indicative of changes taking place within the plant tissue. The ability to quantify the turgor pressure of plant cells in vivo would provide opportunities to understand better the process of pressure regulation within plants, especially when plant stress is considered, and to understand the role of turgor pressure in cellular signaling. Current experimental methods do not separate the influence of the turgor pressure from the effects associated with deformation of the cell wall when estimates of turgor pressure are made. In this paper, nanoindentation measurements are combined with finite element simulations to determine the turgor pressure of cells in vivo while explicitly separating the cell-wall properties from the turgor pressure effects. Quasi-static cyclic tests with variable depth form the basis of the measurements, while relaxation tests at low depth are used to determine the viscoelastic material properties of the cell wall. Turgor pressure is quantified using measurements on Arabidopsis thaliana under three pressure states (control, turgid and plasmolyzed) and at various stages of plant development. These measurements are performed on cells in vivo without causing damage to the cells, such that pressure changes may be studied for a variety of conditions to provide new insights into the biological response to plant stress conditions.

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