, Volume 123, Issue 2, pp 83–94 | Cite as

The behavior of the plasma membrane following osmotic contraction of isolated protoplasts: Implications in freezing injury

  • W. J. Gordon-Kamm
  • P. L. Steponkus


Following osmotic contraction of isolated rye protoplast (Secale cereale L. cv. Puma) that results in nearly a 50% reduction in volume, the plasma membrane was smooth, with no folding or pleating. Instead, deletion of plasma membrane occurred and numerous cytoplasmic vesicles were observed. As a result, the area of the plasma membrane was reduced by approximately 40%. Thin sections revealed that the cytoplasmic vesicles were membrane bound and not merely voids in the cytoplasm. High resolution video microscopy revealed the extent of vesiculation showing large clusters of cytoplasmic vesicles following osmotic contraction. Labeling the plasma membrane with fluorescein-Con-A prior to hypertonic contraction suggested that the cytoplasmic vesicles were derived from the plasma membrane. Freeze-fracture particle density on both the protoplasmic (PFp) and exoplasmic face (EFp) of the plasma membrane remained unchanged following contraction, which is consistent with a unit-membrane deletion into cytoplasmic vesicles. Upon partial re-expansion of the protoplasts, thin sections showed that the vesicles remained in the cytoplasm. These results using osmotic manipulation confirm earlier observations of isolated protoplasts at the light microscope level. Upon contraction plasma membrane is deleted into cytoplasmic vesicles, which are not readily reincorporated into the plasma membrane upon expansion. Lysis occurs before the original volume and surface area are regained.


Freeze-fracture Isolated rye protoplasts Osmotic contraction Plasma membrane-derived vesicles Ultrastructure 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. Gordon-Kamm
    • 1
  • P. L. Steponkus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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