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(31)P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to study the response of maize (Zea mays L.) root tips to hyperosmotic shock. The aim was to identify changes in metabolism that might be relevant to the perception of low soil water potential and the subsequent adaptation of the tissue to these conditions. Osmotic shock was found to result in two different types of response: changes in metabolite levels and changes in intracellular pH. The most notable metabolic changes, which were produced by all the osmotica tested, were increases in phosphocholine and vacuolar phosphate, with a transient increase in cytoplasmic phosphate. It was observed that treatment with ionic and nonionic osmotica produced different effects on the concentrations of bioenergetically important metabolites. It is postulated that these changes are the result of hydrolysis of phosphatidylcholine and other membrane phospholipids, due to differential activation of specific membrane-associated phospholipases by changes in the surface tension of the plasmalemma. These events may be important in the detection of osmotic shock and subsequent acclimatization. A cytoplasmic alkalinization was also observed during hyperosmotic treatment, and this response, which is consistent with the activation of the plasmalemma H(+)-ATPase, together with the other metabolic changes, may suggest the existence of a complex and integrated mechanism of osmoregulation.


Journal article


Plant Physiol

Publication Date





856 - 863