The signal transduction processes that trigger stomatal opening and closing


The chemiosmotic model of stomatal opening revisited

by Tallman G. (1992)

, Pepperdine University, Malibu, Californie, USA

in Critical Reviews in Plant Science 11, 35–57 – –

CrossRef |-


Stomata are light‐activated biological valves in the otherwise gas‐impermeable epidermis of aerial organs of higher plants. Stomata often regulate rates of photosynthesis and transpiration in ways that optimize whole‐plant carbon gain against water loss. Each stoma is flanked by a pair of opposing guard cells. Stomatal opening occurs by light‐activated increases in the turgor pressure of guard cells, which causes them to change shape so that the stomatal pore between them widens.

These increases in turgor pressure oppose increases in cellular osmotic pressure that result from uptake of K+. K+ uptake occurs by a chemiosmotic mechanism in response to light‐activated extrusion of H+ outward across the plasma membrane of the guard cell.

The initial changes in cellular membrane potential lead to the opening of inward‐rectifying K+ channels, after which Kis taken up along its electrochemical gradient. Changes in membrane potential resulting from K+ uptake may be balanced by accumulation of Clions by guard cells and/or by synthesis of malic acid within each cell. Malic acid also acts to buffer increases in cytosolic pH caused by H+extrusion.

This review describes how the application of patch‐clamp technology to guard cell protoplasts has enabled investigators to elucidate the mechanisms by which H+ is extruded from guard cells, the types of ion channels present in the guard cell plasma membrane, how those ion channels are regulated, and the signal transduction processes that trigger stomatal opening and closing.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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

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