Sucrose transport into the phloem of Ricinus communis L. seedlings as measured by the analysis of sieve-tube sap

J Kallarackal, G Orlich, C Schobert, E Komor
Planta 1989, 177 (3): 327-35
Careful cutting of the hypocotyl of Ricinus communis L. seedlings led to the exudation of pure sieve-tube sap for 2-3 h. This offered the possibility of testing the phloem-loading system qualitatively and quantitatively by incubating the cotyledons with different solutes of various concentrations to determine whether or not these solutes were loaded into the sieve tubes. The concentration which was achieved by loading and the time course could also be documented. This study concentrated on the loading of sucrose because it is the major naturally translocated sieve-tube compound. The sucrose concentration of sieve-tube sap was approx. 300 mM when the cotyledons were buried in the endosperm. When the cotyledons were excised from the endosperm and incubated in buffer, the sucrose concentration decreased gradually to 80-100 mM. This sucrose level was maintained for several hours by starch breakdown. Incubation of the excised cotyledons in sucrose caused the sucrose concentration in the sieve tubes to rise from 80 to 400 mM, depending on the sucrose concentration in the medium. Thus the sucrose concentration in the sieve tubes could be manipulated over a wide range. The transfer of labelled sucrose to the sieve-tube sap took 10 min; full isotope equilibration was finally reached after 2 h. An increase of K(+) in the medium or in the sieve tubes did not change the sucrose concentration in the sievetube sap. Similarly the experimentally induced change of sucrose concentration in the sieve tubes did not affect the K(+) concentration in the exudate. High concentrations of K(+), however, strongly reduced the flow rate of exudation. Similar results were obtained with Na(+) (data not shown). The minimum translocation speed in the sieve tubes in vivo was calculated from the growth increment of the seedling to be 1.03 m·h(-1), a value, which on average was also obtained for the exudation system with the endosperm attached. This comparison of the in-vivo rate of phloem transport and the exudation rate from cut hypocotyls indicates that sink control of phloem transport in the seedlings of that particular age was small, if there was any at all, and that the results from the experimental exudation system were probably not falsified by removal of the sink tissues.

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