Germination and ion leakage are linked with phase transitions: of membrane lipids during imbibition of Typha latifolia pollen


F. A. Hoekstra (corresponding author)


In previous studies on the causes of imbibitional leakage in dry polien we have presented data which suggest that the leakage is due to a gel to liquid crystalline phase transition in membrane phospholipids during the rehydration event. In the present study we greatly extend and confirm those results. A supplemented phase diagram for the hydration dependent transition temperature of membrane phospholipids in pollen is presented. In pollen containing > 0.05 g H2O g−1 dry weight at the time of imbibition, this phase diagram for the phospholipids precisely predicts the conditions for rehydration under which germination is maximal and leakage is minimal. However, in extremely dry pollen, containing < 0.05 g H2O g−1 dry weight the predictive value of the phase diagram for phospholipids in the pollen is not in agreement with data for germination and leakage. Thus, an alternative explanation must be sought for leakage in these circumstances. We examined the available evidence and suggest here that a modified form of the non-bilayer phase hypothesis proposed by Simon (1974) may apply in the specialized case of extremely dry cells.