, Volume 190, Issue 1, pp 127–136

Location of the major barriers to water and ion movement in young roots of Zea mays L.

  • Carol A. Peterson
  • Martina Murrmann
  • Ernst Steudle

DOI: 10.1007/BF00195684

Cite this article as:
Peterson, C.A., Murrmann, M. & Steudle, E. Planta (1993) 190: 127. doi:10.1007/BF00195684


The main barriers to the movement of water and ions in young roots of Zea mays were located by observing the effects of wounding various cell layers of the cortex on the roots' hydraulic conductivities and root pressures. These parameters were measured with a root pressure probe. Injury to the epidermis and cortex caused no significant change in hydraulic conductivity and either no change or a slight decline in root pressure. Injury to a small area of the endodermis did not change the hydraulic conductivity but caused an immediate and substantial drop in root pressure. When large areas of epidermis and cortex were removed (15–38% of total root mass), the endodermis was always injured and root pressure fell. The hydraulic conductance of the root increased but only by a factor of 1.2–2.7. The results indicate that the endodermis is the main barrier to the radial movement of ions but not water. The major barrier to water is the membranes and apoplast of all the living tissue. These conclusions were drawn from experiments in which hydrostatic-pressure differences were used to induce water flows across young maize roots which had an immature exodermis and an endodermis with Casparian bands but no suberin lamellae or secondary walls. The different reactions of water and ions to the endodermis can be explained by the huge difference in the permeability of membranes to these substances. A hydrophobic wall barrier such as the Casparian band should have little effect on the movement of water, which permeates membranes and, perhaps, also the Casparian bands easily. However, hydrophobic wall depositions largely prevent the movement of ions. Several hours after wounding the endodermis, root pressure recovered to some extent in most of the experiments, indicating that the wound in the endodermis had been partially healed.

Key words

Casparian bandEndodermisHydraulic conductivityRoot pressureWound reactionZea



hydraulic conductivity of root; T1/2 = half-time of water exchange between root xylem and external medium

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol A. Peterson
    • 1
  • Martina Murrmann
    • 2
  • Ernst Steudle
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für Pflanzenökologie, Universität BayreuthBayreuthFRG