Turgor pressure in mechanically impeded lupin roots

B. J. Atwell, J. C. Newsome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seedlings of lupin (Lupinus angustifolius cv. 75A-258) were grown in cores of sandy loam which was compacted to bulk densities of 1.6 and 1.8 Mg m-3 . There was a substantial decrease in root elongation rate at the higher bulk density. After 4-7 d, roots were rinsed free of soil and clamped loosely in a Perspex block for measurement of turgor pressure (P) using a pressure probe. Measurements were made at 3-4 positions on each root, each estimation taking 2 min. Turgor pressures in the terminal 15 mm of the axes ranged between 0.213 and 0.530 at 1.6 Mg m-3 and 0.210 and 0.570 MPa at 1.8 Mg m-3; mean P values were 0.365 and 0.351 MPa in roots growing at 1.6 and 1.8 Mg m-3, respectively. These measurements were made on roots removed from the soil; P could have been greater in roots still growing in compact soil.

Anatomical studies showed that the distal boundary of the zone of cell expansion was 2-4 mm nearer the apex in roots growing at 1.8 than at 1.6 Mg m-3. Using this information, we showed that the mean P of expanding tissue was the same in roots of the two treatments. The apparent rise in P near the apex of roots at 1.8 Mg m-3 was not statistically significant.

Primary roots growing against high mechanical impedance had a 34% lower rate of elongation and a 22% greater diameter, resulting in nearly identical rates of volume expansion (35.1 and 34.9 mm3 d-1 at 1.6 and 1.8 Mg m-3 respectively). Furthermore, the rate of O2 uptake was the same in 10 mm root apices from both treatments so that there was no evidence that the carbohydrate requirement for respiration was enhanced by high soil strength. Moreover, while mechanical impedance decreased root elongation, it did not significantly affect our estimate of P. We believe that P in lupin roots changes in response to mechanical impedance only when volume expansion or utilization of solutes are affected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Plant Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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