• Aluminum;
  • electrical potential;
  • membrane;
  • rhizotoxicity;
  • roots;
  • toxicity. Triticum aestivum;
  • wheat

The generally rhizotoxic ion Al3+ often enhances root growth at low concentrations. The hypothesis that Al3+ enhances growth by relieving H+ toxicity was tested with wheat seedlings (Triticum aestivum L.). Growth enhancement by Al3+ only occurred under acidic conditions that reduced root elongation. Al3+ increased cell membrane electrical polarity and stimulated H+ extrusion. Previous investigations have shown that Al3+ decreases solute leakage at low pH and that the alleviation of H+ toxicity by cations appears to be a general phenomenon with effectiveness dependent upon charge (C3+>C2+>Cl+). Alleviation of one cation toxicity by another toxic cation appears to be reciprocal so that Al3+ toxicity is relieved by H+. It has been argued previously that this latter phenomenon accounts for the apparent toxicity of ALOH2+ and Al(OH)+2. Reduction of cell-surface electrical potential by the ameliorative cation may reduce the cell-surface activity of the toxic cation.