Stomata: ABA accumulates in the guard-cell apoplast by evaporation from the guard-cell wall


The guard-cell apoplast as a site of abscisic acid redistribution in Vicia faba L

by Zhang S. Q., Outlaw W. H.  Jr. (2001a)

in Plant, Cell & Environment 24: 347356. –

Wiley Online Library |PubMed |CAS | –


Abscisic acid (ABA) integrates the water status of a plant and causes stomatal closure. Physiological mechanisms remain poorly understood, however, because guard cells flanking stomata are small and contain only attomol quantities of ABA.

Here, pooled extracts of dissected guard cells of Vicia faba L. were immunoassayed for ABA at sub-fmol sensitivity. A pulse of water stress was imposed by submerging the roots in a solution of PEG. The water potentials of root and leaf declined during 20 min of water stress but recovered after stress relief.

During stress, the ABA concentration in the root apoplast increased, but that in the leaf apoplast remained low. The ABA concentration in the guard-cell apoplast increased during stress, providing evidence for intra-leaf ABA redistribution and leaf apoplastic heterogeneity.

Subsequently, the ABA concentration of the leaf apoplast increased, consistent with ABA import via the xylem. Throughout, the ABA contents of the guard-cell apoplast, but not the guard-cell symplast, were convincingly correlated with stomatal aperture size, identifying an external locus for ABA perception under these conditions.

Apparently, ABA accumulates in the guard-cell apoplast by evaporation from the guard-cell wall, so the ABA signal in the xylem is amplified maximally at high transpiration rates.

Thus, stomata will display apparently higher sensitivity to leaf apoplastic ABA if stomata are widely open in a relatively dry atmosphere.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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

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