An original noninvasive method for monitoring water relations in plant roots is described. The gravimetric method was combined with the continuous recording of the photoelectric signal. According to this method, an intact plant was attached to the arm of a sensitive weighing beam and balanced. The root system was exposed to the air and continuously sprinkled with a solution flowing at a constant rate, in order to preserve the plant intact and to continue recording after the solution was changed. When the equilibrium was upset as a result of a change in plant weight, the movement of the beam's shutter cut off the flow of light incident on the photoelectric cell. The photocurrent was measured using a highly sensitive recording microampermeter. The method was tested with the seedlings of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.), when their roots were treated with salt solutions of various concentrations. NaCl solutions at the plasmolytic concentration induced a severe salt stress (200 mM) and brought about a significant loss of water in the plant. A similar response was observed at a lower salt concentration (10 mM) that induced neither plasmolysis nor salt stress. In both cases, the response was reversible and essentially devoid of any lag period. The method is notable for a high sensitivity (1–10 μl) and a short lag time (its resolution is one second). It ensures the continuous automatic recording of even small changes in water content in intact plants. The method may be used for the investigation of immediate stress-induced water loss with an accurate estimation of short lag periods of this response.
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 10, 2004
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