Intracellular pH stability in the aquatic resurrection plant Chamaegigas intrepidus in the extreme environmental conditions that characterize its natural habitat
Schiller P., Hartung W., Ratcliffe RG.
Chamaegigas intrepidus Dinter (syn. Lindernia intrepidus (Dinter) Oberm.) is a poikilohydric aquatic plant that lives in rock pools on granitic outcrops in Central Namibia. The pools are only filled intermittently during the summer rains, and the plants can pass through 15-20 rehydration/dehydration cycles during a single wet season. Rehydrated plants also have to cope with substantial diurnal fluctuations in the pool pH as a result of photosynthetic CO2 uptake. We have used in vivo 31P NMR spectroscopy to investigate the effect of external pH and dehydration (low water potential) on intracellular pH in the roots and submerged leaves of C. intrepidus. Increasing the external pH from 6 to l0 had no effect on the steady state cytoplasmic and vacuolar pH values of submerged leaves, but caused a slight alkalinization of the root cytoplasm. Similarly dehydration with PEG-600 at either pH 6 or pH 10 had no effect on the cytoplasmic pH of the leaves, but it did cause a small alkalinization of the leaf vacuoles at pH 10. These results imply an unusually effective regulation of intracellular pH, consistent with the adaptation of C. intrepidus to the extreme environmental conditions of its habitat. The NMR analysis also showed that dehydration had no effect on the inorganic phosphate and phosphocholine pools, and this was taken to indicate that the cell membranes were well protected from the effects of the low water potential.