Direct measurement of water availability in gelled plant tissue culture media

  • L. Art Spomer
  • Mary Ann Lila Smith


Water constitutes nearly 100% of the volume and 95% of the mass of gelled plant tissue culture media. Even so, plant growth and development responses observed to occur with relatively small changes in gelling agent concentration (0.1% of media total mass) have been attributed to changes in media water availability. Measurements with three alternative direct techniques, specific for measuring physiochemical water availability indicated the effects of a change of this magnitude in gelling agent concentration negligibly affected the media water potential and water conductivity. Sensitive pressure membrane measurements indicated that incremental gelling agent concentration increases of 0.1% (of media total mass) within the range normally used for plant tissue culture media, depressed water matric potential only 1–2cm H2O (1–2×10−4 MPa (mega pascal.)); these values were confirmed with equally sensitive tensiometer measurements. Moreover, no effect of concentration on water movement could be detected with a precise constant-head permeameter over a broader range of gelling agent concentrations. These results indicate that eitherin vitro plants are extremely sensitive to subtle shifts in water status, or other physiochemical factors that also change with gelling agent concentration are contributing to the reported effects on plant growth and development.

Key words

agar media gelled media media matric potential media water availability media water potential 


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Copyright information

© Society for In Vitro Biology 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Art Spomer
    • 1
  • Mary Ann Lila Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbana

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