Cultured cells of tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv VFNT-cherry, have been selected for resistance to water stress (low water potential) imposed by the addition of polyethylene glycol to the culture medium. The ability of nonselected cells to grow in media with low water potentials changes dramatically with the age of the cells (with respect to days following inoculation) whereas there is little effect of the age of selected cells on growth over the same media water potentials. The increased resistance of selected cells has limited stability in the absence of stress, indicating that resistance is established by a slow reversible adaptive process. Increased resistance (growth) in the presence of water stress appears to result from considerable osmotic adjustment by the cells. Growth cycle-dependent changes in resistance of nonselected cells are correlated with osmotic potential changes which are associated with the normal cell growth pattern in culture. Lowered osmotic potential is maintained by selected cells throughout the entire growth cycle and may explain the growth cycle independence of growth of selected cells on polyethylene glycol-containing media. Osmotic adjustment of resistant cells at stationary phase can be as much as 40 bar. Turgor is maintained by resistant cells (as high as 21 bar) in media with low water potentials at least partly at the expense of cell expansion.
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