Roots often continue to elongate while shoot growth is inhibited in plants subjected to low-water potentials. The cause of this differential response to water deficit was investigated. We examined hypocotyl and root growth, polysome status and mRNA populations, and abscisic acid (ABA) content in etiolated soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr. cv Williams) seedlings whose growth was inhibited by transfer to low-water potential vermiculite or exogenous ABA. Both treatments affected growth and dry weight in a similar fashion. Maximum inhibition of hypocotyl growth occurred when internal ABA levels (modulated by ABA application) reached the endogenous level found in the elongating zone of seedlings grown in water-deficient vermiculite. Conversely, root growth was affected to only a slight extent in low-water potential seedlings and by most ABA treatments (in some, growth was promoted). In every seedling section examined, transfer of seedlings into lowwater potential vermiculite caused ABA levels to increase approximately 5- to 10-fold over that found in well-watered seedlings. Changes in soluble sugar content, polysome status, and polysome mRNA translation products seen in low-water potential seedlings did not occur with ABA treatments sufficient to cause significant inhibition of hypocotyl elongation. These data suggest that both variation in endogenous ABA levels, and differing sensitivity to ABA in hypocotyls and roots can modulate root/shoot growth ratios. However, exogenous ABA did not induce changes in sugar accumulation, polysome status, and mRNA populations seen after transfer into low-water potential vermiculite.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science