, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 67-79

Water transport in plants: Role of the apoplast

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The present state of modelling of water transport across plant tissue is reviewed. A mathematical model is presented which incorporates the cell-to-cell (protoplastic) and the parallel apoplastic path. It is shown that hydraulic and osmotic properties of the apoplast may contribute substantially to the overall hydraulic conductivity of tissues (Lpr) and reflection coefficients (67-1). The model shows how water and solutes interact with each other during their passage across tissues which are considered as a network of hydraulic resistors and capacitances (‘composite transport model’). Emphasis is on the fact that hydraulic properties of tissues depend on the nature of the driving force. Osmotic gradients cause a much smaller tissue Lpr than hydrostatic. Depending on the conditions, this results in variable hydraulic resistances of tissues and plant organs. For the root, the model readily explains the well-known phenomenon of variable hydraulic resistance for the uptake of water and non-linear force/flow relations. Along the cell-to-cell (protoplastic) path, water flow may be regulated by the opening and closing of selective water channels (aquaporins) which have been shown to be affected by different environmental factors. H Lambers Section editor