The membranes of slowly drought stressed wheat triticum aestivum cultivar neepawa seedlings a freeze fracture study

Pearce, R.S.

Planta (Heidelberg) 166(1): 1-14


ISSN/ISBN: 0032-0935
Accession: 006716852

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Seedlings of Triticum aestivum L. cv. Neepawa were slowly drought-stressed by withholding water after sowing in pots. Leaf extension stopped during development of the third leaf. Damage was assessed by rewatering the pots and measuring regrowth; 1-5 d after growth stopped, rewatering induced significant regrowth within several hours; 6-13 d after growth stopped, regrowth was delayed; from 14 d after growth stopped, no regrowth occurred after rewatering. Leaf bases were excised from the drought-stressed seedlings during this period of increasing damage, and were freeze-etched. Intramembranous particles (IMP) were evenly scattered in the plasma membrane in those plants which regrew immediately after rewatering. In the plants which regrew after a delay or which did not regrow on rewatering, there were patches without IMP in plasma membrane, nuclear envelope, and other membranes. Plasma membrane, nuclear envelope and possibly other membranes were sometimes partly replaced by vesicles, possibly formed from the original membrane. Such vesiculation occurred in a few cells in plants which survived the stress with a delayed regrowth, and was commoner in the plants which did not recover. The results support the idea that slow drought induces IMP-free patches in membranes including the plasma membrane: this induces membrane reorganization including vesiculation of membranes and coagulation of protoplasm, and that these are expressed as delayed or failed regrowth. Some IMP-free patches in the plasma membrane had a faint ordered sub-structure, possibly a hexagonal lipid phase. Such patches were infrequent and IMP sometimes occurred in areas of plasma membrane having an apparently similar sub-structure. Thus, the IMP-free patches could not be explained by a lamellar-hexagonal phase transition. As the stress became damaging, vesicles and endoplasmic reticulum accumulated immediately next to the plasma membrane. Mainly during the early period of damaging stress (6-10 d after growth stopped), depressions, invaginations, and rarer "lesions" occurred in the plasma membrane, sometimes associated with some of the IMP-free patches. In the same period, many nuclear envelopes had exceptionally large nuclear pores.