Cell expansion and tracheary element differentiation are regulated by extracellular pH in mesophyll cultures of Zinnia elegans L

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The effects of medium pH on cell expansion and tracheary element (TE) differentiation were investigated in differentiating mesophyll suspension cultures of Zinnia elegans L. In unbuffered cultures initially adjusted to pH 5.5, the medium pH fluctuated reproducibly, decreasing about 1 unit prior to the onset of TE differentiation and then increasing when the initiation of new TEs was complete. Elimination of large pH fluctuations by buffering the culture medium with 20 mM 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid altered both cell expansion and TE differentiation, whereas altering the starting pH of unbuffered culture medium had no effect on either process. Cell expansion in buffered cultures was pH dependent with an optimum of 5.5 to 6.0. The direction of cell expansion was also pH dependent in buffered cultures. Cells elongated at pH 5.5 to 6.0, whereas isodiametric cell expansion was predominant at pH 6.5 to 7.0. The onset of TE differentiation was delayed when the pH was buffered higher or lower than 5.0. However, TEs eventually appeared in cultures buffered at pH 6.5 to 7.0, indicating that a decrease in pH to 5.0 is not necessary for differentiation. Very large TEs with secondary cell wall thickenings resembling metaxylem differentiated in cultures buffered at pH 5.5 to 6.0, which also showed the greatest cell expansion. The correlation between cell expansion and delayed differentiation of large, metaxylem-like TEs may indicate a link between the regulatory mechanisms controlling cell expansion and TE differentiation.

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Plant Physiology