Turgor regulation at reduced water contents was closely associated with changes in the elastic quality of the cell walls of individual needles and shoots of naturally drought-resistant seedlings of white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench] Voss.) and of seedlings of intermediate resistance that had been pretreated with paclobutrazol, a stress-protecting, synthetic plant-growth regulator. Paclobutrazol-treated seedlings showed marked increases in drought resistance, and pressure-volume analysis combined with Chardakov measurements confirmed observations that water stress was ameliorated during prolonged drought. Turgor was maintained in the paclobutrazol-treated and in the naturally resistant drought-stressed seedlings despite water contents near or below the turgor-loss volumes of well-watered controls. The maintenance of turgor in these seedlings was in large part a function of the dynamic process of cell wall adjustment, as reflected by marked reductions in both the saturated and turgor-loss volumes and by large increases in the elastic coefficients of the tissues. Shear and Young's moduli, calculated from pressure-volume curves and the radii and wall thicknesses of mesophyll cells, also confirmed observed changes in the elastic qualities of the cell walls. Elastic coefficients of well-watered, paclobutrazol-treated seedlings were consistently larger than those in well-watered controls and several times larger than the values in untreated plants, which succumbed rapidly to drought. In contrast, untreated seedlings that withstood prolonged drought without wilting displayed elastic coefficients similar to those in seedlings that had been treated with paclobutrazol but that had not been exposed to drought.
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