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Mechanisms of fusicoccin action: A dominant role for secondary transport in a higher-plant cell


Fusicoccin (FC) is commonly thought to promote “electrogenic” H+ extrusion through its action on the H+-ATPase of the plant plasma membrane. Nonetheless, essential support from rigorous electrophysiological analysis has remained largely absent. The present investigation surveys the effects of FC on the charge transport properties at the membrane of a higher-plant cell — stomatal guard cells of Vicia faba L. — for which the electrical geometry is defined, and from which the voltage-dependent kinetic characteristic for the pump has been identified. Current-voltage (I-V) relations of the guard cells were determined before and during treatments with FC, and during brief exposures to NaCN plus salicylhydroxamic acid. Responses of the pump and of the ensemble of secondary transport processes were identified in the whole-membrane conductance-voltage relations and in the difference-current-voltage (dI-V) characteristic for the pump. In 0.1 mM K+, exposure to 10 μM FC shifted guard-cell potentials negative by 29–61 mV. Current-and conductance-voltage profiles indicated limited changes in the pump I-V characteristic, an observation which was confirmed through explicit kinetic analysis of pump dI-V relations. However, the voltage response was accompanied by a 1.5-to 2.6-fold fall in membrane conductance. These results challenge conventional views of fusicoccin action by ascribing the electrical responses to reduced current passage through secondary transport pathways as well as to enhanced electrogenic ion pumping.

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4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid


salicylhydroxamic acid



V m :

free-running membrane potential

G m :

membrane slope conductance at V m

(d)I-V :

(difference) current-voltage (relation)

G-V :

slope conductance-voltage (relation)


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Blatt, M.R. Mechanisms of fusicoccin action: A dominant role for secondary transport in a higher-plant cell. Planta 174, 187–200 (1988).

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Key words

  • Current-voltage relation
  • Fusicoccin
  • Guard cell
  • Membrane conductance
  • Proton pump
  • Transport pathways, secondary, in cell
  • vicia