Plants of Xanthium strumarium L. and Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv `Rheinlands Ruhm' were grown in solution culture, and control and steam-girdled intact plants were stressed. Detached roots of both species were stressed to different extents in two ways: (a) either in warm air or, (b) in the osmoticum Aquacide III. The roots of both species produced and accumulated progressively more abscisic acid (ABA), the greater the stress inflicted by either method. ABA-glucose ester levels in Xanthium roots were not affected by water stress and were too low to be the source of the stress-induced ABA. The fact that ABA accumulated in detached roots and in roots of girdled plants proves that ABA was synthesized in the roots and not merely transported from the shoots. Maximum ABA accumulation in detached roots occurred after 60 to 70% loss of fresh weight. In Xanthium roots, ABA levels continued to increase for at least 11 hours, and no catabolism was apparent when stressed roots were immersed in water, although the roots did stop accumulating ABA. When osmotically stressed, Xanthium roots reached a maximum ABA level after 2 hours, but ABA continued to rise in the medium. Under optimal stress conditions, endogenous ABA levels increased 100 times over their prestress values in detached roots of Xanthium , and 15 times in Lycopersicon under nonoptimal stress, when endogenous ABA was expressed as concentrations based on tissue water content. These are much greater relative increases than observed in the leaves (15 times in Xanthium , 3 times in Lycopersicon ), although the roots contain substantially less ABA than the leaves in all circumstances. The results suggest that the endogenous level of ABA in roots could rise appreciably prior to leaf wilt, and could modify the plant's water economy before the leaves become stressed.
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