The influence of calcium and pH on growth in primary roots of Zea mays.

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  • Author:  M L Evans  

  • Abstract:  We investigated the interaction of Ca2+ and pH on root elongation in Zea mays L. cv. B73 x Missouri 17 and cv. Merit. Seedlings were raised to contain high levels of Ca2+ (HC, imbibed and raised in 10 mM CaCl2) or low levels of Ca2+ (LC, imbibed and raised in distilled water). In HC roots, lowering the pH (5 mM MES/Tris) from 6.5 to 4.5 resulted in strong, long-lasting growth promotion. Surprisingly, increasing the pH from 6.5 to 8.5 also resulted in strong growth promotion. In LC roots acidification of the medium (pH 6.5 to 4.5) resulted in transient growth stimulation followed by a gradual decline in the growth rate toward zero. Exposure of LC roots to high pH (pH shift from 6.5 to 8.5) also promoted growth. Addition of EGTA resulted in strong growth promotion in both LC and HC roots. The ability of EGTA to stimulate growth appeared not to be related to H+ release from EGTA upon Ca2+ chelation since, 1) LC roots showed a strong and prolonged response to EGTA, but only a transient response to acid pH, and 2) promotion of growth by EGTA was observed in strongly buffered solutions. We also examined the pH dependence of the release of 45Ca2+ from roots of 3-day-old seedlings grown from grains imbibed in 45Ca2+. Release of 45Ca2+ from the root into agar blocks placed on the root surface was greater the more acidic the pH of the blocks. The results indicate that Ca2+ may be necessary for the acid growth response in roots.

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