Does boron play only a structural role in the growing tissues of higher plants?
In species in which boron (B) mobility is limited, B deficiency only occurs in growing plant organs. As a consequence of the highly localized patterns of plant growth and the general immobility of B it has been extremely difficult to determine the primary function of B in plants. In species in which B is phloem mobile, the removal of B from the growth medium results in the depletion of B present in mature leaves. Thus, it is possible to develop mature leaves with increasingly severe levels of B depletion, thereby overcoming the complications of experiments based on growing tissues. Utilizing this approach we demonstrate here that B depletion of mature plum (Prunus salicind) leaves did not result in any discernible change in leaf appearance, membrane integrity or photosynthetic capacity even though B concentrations were reduced to 6–8 µg/g dwt, which is less than 30% of the reported tissue B requirement. Boron depletion, however, results in a severe disruption of plant growth and metabolism in young growing tissues. This experimental evidence and theoretical considerations suggest that the primary and possibly sole function of B, is as a structural component of growing tissues.
Key wordsBoron deficiency function membrane mobility photosynthesis
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