Intact plants of Xanthium strumarium L. were subjected to a water stress-recovery cycle. As the stress took effect, leaf growth ceased and stomatal resistance increased. The mature leaves then wilted, followed by the half expanded ones. Water, solute, and pressure potentials fell steadily in all leaves during the rest of the stress period. After 3 days, the young leaves lost turgor and the plants were rewatered. All the leaves rapidly regained turgor and the younger ones recommenced elongation. Stomatal resistance declined, but several days elapsed before pre-stress values were attained. Abscisic acid (ABA) and phaseic acid (PA) levels rose in all the leaves after the mature ones wilted. ABA-glucose ester (ABA-GE) levels increased to a lesser extent, and the young leaves contained little of this conjugate. PA leveled off in the older leaves during the last 24 hours of stress, and ABA levels declined slightly. The young leaves accumulated ABA and PA throughout the stress period and during the 14-hour period immediately following rewatering. The ABA and PA contents, expressed per unit dry weight, were highest in the young leaves. Upon rewatering, large quantities of PA appeared in the mature leaves as ABA levels fell to the pre-stress level within 14 hours. In the half expanded and young leaves, it took several days to reach pre-stress ABA values. ABA-GE synthesis ceased in the mature leaves, once the stress was relieved, but continued in the half expanded and young leaves for 2 days. Mature leaves, when detached and stressed, accumulated an amount of ABA similar to that in leaves on the intact plant. In contrast, detached and stressed young leaves produced little ABA. Detached mature leaves, and to a lesser extent the half expanded ones, rapidly catabolized ABA to PA and ABA-GE, but the young leaves did not. Studies with radioactive (±)-ABA indicated that in young leaves the conversion of ABA to PA took place at a much lower rate than in mature ones. Leaves of all ages rapidly conjugated PA to PA-glucose ester. Furthermore, when half expanded leaves were stressed on the intact plant, their rate of ABA catabolism was enhanced, an effect not observed in the young leaves. In conclusion, young leaves on intact Xanthium plants produce little stress-induced ABA themselves, but due to import and a low rate of catabolism accumulate more ABA and PA than mature leaves.
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