NACL STRESS ALTERS PRIMARY CELL WALL TENSILE STRENGTH IN THE HALOPHYTIC GRASS, DISTICHLIS SPICATA L.

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523
  • | 2 Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

After 6 months of growth in 200,400, and 500 mm NaCl, cultured cells of Distichlis spicata showed a decreased cell volume (size) despite maintenance of turgor pressure sometimes 2-fold higher than that of the control. Tensile strength, as measured by a nitrogen gas decompression technique, showed empirically that the walls of NaCl-stressed cells were weaker than those of nonstressed cells. Breaking pressures of the walls of control cells were ≈68 ± 4 bars, while that of the walls of cells grown in 500 mm NaCl (-25 bars) were 14 ± 2 bars. The relative amount of cellulose per cell remained about constant despite salt stress. However, glucuronoarabinoxylans were more readily extractable, presumably because of a decrease in cross-linkage with phenol substances. Therefore, we suggest that cellulose microfibrils are not the only determinants that confer tensile strength to the primary cell wall, but rather subtle changes in the matrix polysaccharides are likely responsible for this event.

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