, Volume 178, Issue 4, pp 540–544 | Cite as

Revision of the theory of phototropism in plants: a new interpretation of a classical experiment

  • Koji Hasegawa
  • Masako Sakoda
  • Johan Bruinsma


Went's classical experiment on the diffusion of auxin activity from unilaterally illuminated oat coleoptile tips (Went 1928), was repeated as precisely as possible. In agreement with Went's data with theAvena curvature assay, the agar blocks from the illuminated side of oat (Avena sativa L. cv. Victory) coleoptile tips had, on an average, 38% of the auxin activity of those from the shaded side. However, determination of the absolute amounts of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in the agar blocks, using a physicochemical assay following purification, showed that the IAA was evenly distributed in the blocks from the illuminated and shaded sides. In the blocks from the shaded and dark-control halves the amounts of IAA were 2.5 times higher than the auxin activity measured by theAvena curvature test, and in those from the illuminated half even 7 times higher. Chromatography of the diffusates prior to theAvena curvature test demonstrated that the amounts of two growth inhibitors, especially of the more polar one, were significantly higher in the agar blocks from the illuminated side than in those from the shaded side and the dark control. These results show that the basic experiment from which the Cholodny-Went theory was derived, does not justify this theory. The data rather indicate that phototropism is caused by the light-induced, local accumulation of growth inhibitors against a background of even auxin distribution, the diffusion of auxin being unaffected.

Key words

Avena (phototropism) Cholodny-Went theory Coleoptile Inhibitor (coleoptile growth) Phototropism (Cholodny-Went theory) 



indole-3-acetic acid


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koji Hasegawa
    • 1
  • Masako Sakoda
    • 1
  • Johan Bruinsma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology, College of Liberal ArtsKagoshima UniversityKagoshimaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Plant PhysiologyAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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