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Plant Physiol. 1998 May;117(1):311-9.

Adaptation of active proton pumping and plasmalemma ATPase activity of corn roots to low root medium pH

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Institute of Plant Nutrition 330, University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstrasse 20, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany.


Corn (Zea mays L.) root adaptation to pH 3.5 in comparison with pH 6. 0 (control) was investigated in long-term nutrient solution experiments. When pH was gradually reduced, comparable root growth was observed irrespective of whether the pH was 3.5 or 6.0. After low-pH adaptation, H+ release of corn roots in vivo at pH 5.6 was about 3 times higher than that of control. Plasmalemma of corn roots was isolated for investigation in vitro. At optimum assay pH, in comparison with control, the following increases of the various parameters were caused by low-pH treatment: (a) hydrolytic ATPase activity, (b) maximum initial velocity and Michaelis constant (c) activation energy of H+-ATPase, (d) H+-pumping activity, (e) H+ permeability of plasmalemma, and (f) pH gradient across the membranes of plasmalemma vesicles. In addition, vanadate sensitivity remained unchanged. It is concluded that plasmalemma H+-ATPase contributes significantly to the adaptation of corn roots to low pH. A restricted net H+ release at low pH in vivo may be attributed to the steeper pH gradient and enhanced H+ permeability of plasmalemma but not to deactivation of H+-ATPase. Possible mechanisms responsible for adaptation of plasmalemma H+-ATPase to low solution pH during plant cultivation are discussed.

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