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The drought-tolerant tree species Ziziphus mauritiana Lamk. and Z. rotundifolia Lamk. were shown to have similar high mucilage concentrations (7-10% dry weight) in their leaves, with large numbers of mucilage-containing cells in the upper epidermis and extracellular mucilage-containing cavities in the leaf veins and stem cortex. The main sugar constituents of the water-soluble mucilage extract were rhamnose, glucose and galactose. During drought-stress in two independent studies, foliar mucilage content was unaffected in both species, but glucose and starch contents declined significantly in crude mucilage extracts from droughted leaves. Enzymatic hydrolysis of the mucilage extract using alpha-amylase and amyloglucosidase released glucose, indicating that a mucilage-associated water-soluble glucan, with alpha-1,4- and alpha-1,6-linkages, may exist which was extracted together with the mucilage. From the current data, it is not possible to localize the glucan to determine whether or not it is associated with mucilage-containing cells. Data from pressure-volume analyses of drought-stressed and control leaves showed that, in line with their similar mucilage contents, the relative leaf capacitance isotherm (change in relative water content per unit change in water potential) was similar in both species. During drought-stress, reduced relative capacitance resulted from osmotic adjustment and decreased wall elasticity. Data suggest that in Ziziphus leaves, intracellular mucilages play no part in buffering leaf water status during progressive drought. In Ziziphus species, growing in environments with erratic rainfall, the primary role of foliar mucilage and glucans, rather than as hydraulic capacitors, may be as sources for the remobilization of solutes for osmotic adjustment, thus enabling more effective water uptake and assimilate redistribution into roots and stems prior to defoliation as the drought-stress intensified.
Author(s): Clifford SC, Arndt SK, Popp M, Jones HG
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Journal of Experimental Botany
ISSN (print): 0022-0957
ISSN (electronic): 1460-2431
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Notes: Clifford, S C
Arndt, S K
Jones, H G
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Journal of experimental botany
J Exp Bot. 2002 Jan;53(366):131-8.
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