Diurnal Cycling in Root Resistance to Water Movement



The occurrence of diurnal changes in root resistance of cotton was studied by measuring the flow of water through 35-to70-day-old root systems under a pressure of 3.10 bars or a vacuum of 0.88 bar. The volume of exudate obtained under constant pressure or constant vacuum was 2 to 3 times greater near midday than near midnight indicating that the root resistance apparently was 2 to 3 times greater at night than during the day. The salt concentration of the exudate also cycled; the concentration was lowest at midday and highest at night, hence there was little diurnal variation in the total amount of salt moved per hour. The cycle for volume of exduate, salt concentration, and apparent root resistance had a period of 22 to 26 hours at 24°C. The cycle gradually died away 2 to 3 days after removal of the shoots.

The diurnal variations appeared to be controlled by signals from the shoots because the phase of the cycles could be reset by changing the light-dark cycle under which the plants were grown. Cycling was eliminated by exposure to 8 or more days of continuous light before removing the shoots, and cycling could not be entrained by a 6 hour light-6hour dark cycle. Bubbling nitrogen gas through the nutrient medium stopped cycling. A possible role of ion or growth regulator action is discussed.