New structure in a stomatal complex

Photo credit: Google

Polypodium vulgare – Common Polypody

New structure associated with stomatal complex of the fern Polypodium vulgare.

by Stevens R. A., Martin E. S. (1977a)

School of Environmental Sciences, Plymouth Polytechnic, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK

in Nature 265: 331-334. – doi:10.1038/265331a0


The opening movements of stomata are generally considered to result from the guard cells gaining an osmotic advantage over their immediately adjacent epidermal cells resulting in the uptake of water into the guard cells and their consequent increase in volume.

Fujino1 and Fischer2 independently proposed that active potassium transport between the guard and epidermal cells could be the mechanism by which the cationic fraction of the osmotic imbalance could be achieved.

In recent years many investigators have produced corroborative evidence for this potassium shunt3 using Macallum’s histochemical stain4. Further support for the hypothesis has been obtained using electron probe microanalysis5–8 and potassium-sensitive microelectrodes9.

Despite these studies, no clear-cut picture has emerged concerning either the reservoirs of the ions at either end of the flux or the intercellular ionic pathway although the findings of Heller et al. 10 implicate the vacuole as the ion reservoir within the guard cells as do those of Penny and Bowling9.

There is no current evidence of where or, indeed, whether, potassium is sequestered after it is shunted out of the guard cells during stomatal closure, but it has been suggested that the differentially thickened cell walls of the stomatal complex could serve as storage sites11,12.

We have recently discovered some new morphological features in the stomatal complex of the common polypody, Polypodium vulgare L., which we believe represent the site of potassium accumulation in this species.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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