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We have applied several novel technologies to investigate the role of cytosolic free calcium [Ca2+]i in signal transduction in guard cells of Commelina communis L. Fluorescence ratio imaging and photometry together with the fluorescent Ca2+ indicator Indo-1 were used to directly visualise and measure dynamic spatial and temporal changes in [Ca2+]i in response to various exogenous stimuli. More subtle manipulation of the Ca2+ signal transduction pathway was achieved through the use of photoactivateable, caged Ca2+ and caged inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate (InsP3) released directly into the cytoplasm of the guard cell after microinjection. In these experiments, changes in [Ca2+]i were simultaneously monitored with the fluorescent Ca2+ indicator, Fluo-3. Resting levels of [Ca2+]i (100-200 nM) increased in response to elevated [Ca2+]e, lowering [K+]e, application of the ionophore A-23187 or cytosolic release of either Ca2+ or InsP3 from their caged forms. Stomatal closure was triggered if [Ca2+]i increased above a threshold of about 600 nM. Abscisic acid (ABA) had little effect on [Ca2+]i in the majority of cells studied, being elevated in only a minority of cells investigated. However, stomatal closure occurred in all cases after ABA application. This suggests that ABA acts through both Ca(2+)-independent and Ca(2+)-dependent pathways. The imaging data revealed a substantial heterogeneity in [Ca2+]i within the guard cell. Cytoplasmic regions, particularly near the nucleus, often showed marked elevations and sometimes oscillations. The origin and kinetics of the Ca2+ fluxes leading to the dynamic spatial patterns is discussed along with several new approaches directed towards identification of the source of the Ca2+. These methods include optical sectioning and 3-D reconstruction of both the endomembrane system and [Ca2+]i in living guard cells using confocal microscopy. Overall, our data is consistent with multiple sources for [Ca2+]i, including uptake across the plasma membrane and InsP3- or Ca(2+)-induced Ca2+ release from internal stores.


Conference paper

Publication Date





177 - 190


Calcium, Cell Membrane, Fluorescence, Kinetics, Photometry, Plant Cells, Plants, Signal Transduction