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Planta. 1973 Mar;114(1):1-16. doi: 10.1007/BF00390280.

Relationships between structural development and the absorption of ions by the root system of Cucurbita pepo.

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Agricultural Research Council Letcombe Laboratory, OX12 9JT, Wantage, U.K..


In both the seminal axis and lateral roots of Cucurbita pepo L. the formation of large central xylem elements and the commencement of secondary cambial activity occur 10-20 cm from the root tip. Concomitant with or slightly preceding these developments there are changes in the structure of the walls of endodermal cells where the lignified casparian band spreads along the radial wall and substances staining with Sudan IV are deposited in both radial and tangential walls. At distances more than 30 cm from the tip of primary roots the radius of the stele increases considerably causing splits in the cortex. The endodermis is stretched and the suberin becomes organized in a lamellar form.Against this background of anatomical change certain of the transport capabilities of the root are retained while others are lost. Using an apparatus for measuring the uptake of tracers by segments of intact roots it was found that neither the uptake nor translocation of potassium seem to be affected by the suberization of the endodermis or by secondary thickening, while the translocation of calcium is virtually eliminated when these processes begin. As the root ages its ability to absorb phosphate declines although the translocation of the phosphate absorbed is much less affected by structural development than that of calcium.The observed rates of potassium uptake by complete root systems could be predicted quite accurately from the average of segment uptake data suggesting that the method used gives reliable results.


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