Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dealing with cholorotic Nozomi Rose - Part 4 (Conclusion)

by Richard Chew

This is an update since the last posting a month ago

The result is encouraging. New flower bulbs emerged. It successfully endured the rainy period in December.

Another bulb....

I have learned that most of the times symptoms of nutrient deficiencies may not necessary be corrected by supplementing the deficient nutrients. The likely possible cause is due to high soil pH that reduces the nutrient absorbtion rate, thus cause the plant to exhibit the symptoms. Correcting the soil pH will very likely improve the result.

The above picture was taken last November before the leaves withered off. I am led to believe that the continous rain during November and December had a dramatic impact on the soil pH, which in this case caused the chlorosis. Adding organic materials on top of the soil not just helped correcting the soil pH but also help reduce irritation to the soil organism like earth worms from the pelting rain at the surface.

In conclusion, I feel it is imperative that soil pH is checked before treating nutrient deficient symptoms. Another point I wish to highlight before I close, is that a month ago, I received a comment from a reader saying that this rose isn't a Nozomi rose. After checking from some other sources, I must admit that it is true that what I have is not a Nozomi rose.

Thank you for following my story in dealing with chlorosis. Hope this is good resource for you in dealing with plant diseases.

Wish you Happy Chinese New Year.

To go to original posting click here (Part 1)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gas Exchange in Plants [EXT]

I extracted this resource from Kimball. This site gives good information on respiration and transpiration.

Gas Exchange in Plants

In order to carry on photosynthesis, green plants need a supply of carbon dioxide and a means of disposing of oxygen. In order to carry on cellular respiration, plant cells need oxygen and a means of disposing of carbon dioxide (just as animal cells do).

Unlike animals, plants have no specialized organs for gas exchange (with the few inevitable exceptions!). The are several reasons they can get along without them:

  • Each part of the plant takes care of its own gas exchange needs. Although plants have an elaborate liquid transport system, it does not participate in gas transport.

  • Roots, stems, and leaves respire at rates much lower than are characteristic of animals. Only during photosynthesis are large volumes of gases exchanged and each leaf is well adapted to take care of its own needs.

  • The distance that gases must diffuse in even a large plant is not great. Each living cell in the plant is located close to the surface. While obvious for leaves, it is also true for stems. The only living cells in the stem are organized in thin layers just beneath the bark. The cells in the interior are dead and serve only to provide mechanical support.

  • Most of the living cells in a plant have at least part of their surface exposed to air. The loose packing of parenchyma cells in leaves, stems, and roots provides an interconnecting system of air spaces. Gases diffuse through air several thousand times faster than through water. Once oxygen and carbon dioxide reach the network of intercellular air spaces (arrows), they diffuse rapidly through them.

  • Oxygen and carbon dioxide also pass through the cell wall and plasma membrane of the cell by diffusion. The diffusion of carbon dioxide may be aided by aquaporin channels inserted in the plasma membrane.


The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the leaf (as well as the loss of water vapor in transpiration) occurs through pores called stomata (singular = stoma).

Normally stomata open when the light strikes the leaf in the morning and close during the night.

The immediate cause is a change in the turgor of the guard cells. The inner wall of each guard cell is thick and elastic. When turgor develops within the two guard cells flanking each stoma, the thin outer walls bulge out and force the inner walls into a crescent shape. This opens the stoma. When the guard cells lose turgor, the elastic inner walls regain their original shape and the stoma closes.

The table shows the osmotic pressure measured at different times of day in typical guard cells. The osmotic pressure within the other cells of the lower epidermis remained constant at 150 lb/in2. When the osmotic pressure of the guard cells became greater than that of the surrounding cells, the stomata opened. In the evening, when the osmotic pressure of the guard cells dropped to nearly that of the surrounding cells, the stomata closed.

Opening stomata

The increase in osmotic pressure in the guard cells is caused by an uptake of potassium ions (K+). The concentration of K+ in open guard cells far exceeds that in the surrounding cells. This is how it accumulates:

  • Blue light is absorbed by phototropin which activates

  • a proton pump (an H+-ATPase) in the plasma membrane of the guard cell.

  • ATP, generated by the light reactions of photosynthesis, drives the pump.

  • As protons (H+) are pumped out of the cell, its interior becomes increasingly negative.

  • This attracts additional potassium ions into the cell, raising its osmotic pressure.

Closing stomata

Although open stomata are essential for photosynthesis, they also expose the plant to the risk of losing water through transpiration. Some 90% of the water taken up by a plant is lost in transpiration.

Abscisic acid (ABA) is the hormone that triggers closing of the stomata when soil water is insufficient to keep up with transpiration (which often occurs around mid-day).

The mechanism:

  • ABA binds to receptors at the surface of the plasma membrane of the guard cells.

  • The receptors activate several interconnecting pathways which converge to produce
    a rise in pH in the cytosol

transfer of Ca2+ from the vacuole to the cytosol

  • The increased Ca2+ in the cytosol blocks the uptake of K+ into the guard cell while

  • the increased pH stimulates the loss of Cl- and organic ions (e.g., malate2-) from the cell.

  • The loss of these solutes in the cytosol reduces the osmotic pressure of the cell and thus turgor.

  • The stomata close.

Open stomata also provide an opening through which bacteria can invade the interior of the leaf. However, guard cells have receptors that can detect the presence of molecules associated with bacteria called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). LPS and flagellin are examples. When the guard cells detect these PAMPs, ABA mediates closure of the stoma and thus close the door to bacterial entry.

This system of innate immunity resembles that found in animals. Link to discussion.

Density of stomata

The density of stomata produced on growing leaves varies with such factors as:

  • the temperature, humidity, and light intensity around the plant;

  • and also, as it turns out, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air around the leaves. The relationship is inverse; that is, as CO2 goes up, the number of stomata goes down, and vice versa. Some evidence:

  • Plants grown in an artificial atmosphere with a high level of CO2 have fewer stomata than normal.

  • Herbarium specimens reveal that the number of stomata in a given species has been declining over the last 200 years — the time of the industrial revolution and rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere [View].

These data can be quantified by determining the stomatal index: the ratio of the number of stomata in a given area divided by the total number of stomata and other epidermal cells in that same area.

How does the plant determine how many stomata to produce?

It turns out that the mature leaves on the plant detect the conditions around them and send a signal (its nature still unknown) that adjusts the number of stomata that will form on the developing leaves.

Two experiments (reported by Lake et al., in Nature, 411:154, 10 May 2001):

  • When the mature leaves of the plant (Arabidopsis) are encased in glass tubes filled with high levels (720 ppm) of CO2, the developing leaves have fewer stomata than normal even though they are growing in normal air (360 ppm).

  • Conversely, when the mature leaves are given normal air (360 ppm CO2) while the shoot is exposed to high CO2 (720 ppm), the new leaves develop with the normal stomatal index.

Stomata reveal past carbon dioxide levels

Because CO2 levels and stomatal index are inversely related, could fossil leaves tell us about past levels of CO2 in the atmosphere? Yes. As reported by Gregory Retallack (in Nature, 411:287, 17 May 2001), his study of the fossil leaves of the ginkgo and its relatives shows:

  • their stomatal indices were high
    late in the Permian period (275–290 million years ago) and again
    in the Pleistocene epoch (1–8 million years ago).

  • Both these periods are known from geological evidence to have been times of

  • low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and
    ice ages (with glaciers).

  • Conversely, stomatal indices were low during the Cretaceous period, a time of high CO2 levels and warm climate.

These studies also lend support to the importance of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas playing an important role in global warming.

Roots and Stems

Woody stems and mature roots are sheathed in layers of dead cork cells impregnated with suberin — a waxy, waterproof (and airproof) substance. So cork is as impervious to oxygen and carbon dioxide as it is to water.

However, the cork of both mature roots and woody stems is perforated by nonsuberized pores called lenticels. These enable oxygen to reach the intercellular spaces of the interior tissues and carbon dioxide to be released to the atmosphere.

The photo shows the lenticels in the bark of a young stem.

In many annual plants, the stems are green and almost as important for photosynthesis as the leaves. These stems use stomata rather than lenticels for gas exchange.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Transpiration [EXT]

I found this in John Kimball's site. Very good and simplified explanation on Transpiration, evaporation of water from plant leaves.


Transpiration is the evaporation of water from plants. It occurs chiefly at the leaves while their stomata are open for the passage of CO2 and O2 during photosynthesis.

But air that is not fully saturated with water vapor (100% relative humidity) will dry the surfaces of cells with which it comes in contact. So the photosynthesizing leaf loses substantial amount of water by evaporation. This transpired water must be replaced by the transport of more water from the soil to the leaves through the xylem of the roots and stem.


Transpiration is not simply a hazard of plant life. It is the "engine" that pulls water up from the roots to:

  • supply photosynthesis (1%-2% of the total)

  • bring minerals from the roots for biosynthesis within the leaf

  • cool the leaf

Environmental factors that affect the rate of transpiration

1. Light

Plants transpire more rapidly in the light than in the dark. This is largely because light stimulates the opening of the stomata (mechanism). Light also speeds up transpiration by warming the leaf.

2. Temperature

Plants transpire more rapidly at higher temperatures because water evaporates more rapidly as the temperature rises. At 30°C, a leaf may transpire three times as fast as it does at 20°C.

3. Humidity

The rate of diffusion of any substance increases as the difference in concentration of the substances in the two regions increases.When the surrounding air is dry, diffusion of water out of the leaf goes on more rapidly.

4. Wind

When there is no breeze, the air surrounding a leaf becomes increasingly humid thus reducing the rate of transpiration. When a breeze is present, the humid air is carried away and replaced by drier air.

5. Soil water

A plant cannot continue to transpire rapidly if its water loss is not made up by replacement from the soil. When absorption of water by the roots fails to keep up with the rate of transpiration, loss of turgor occurs, and the stomata close. This immediately reduces the rate of transpiration (as well as of photosynthesis). If the loss of turgor extends to the rest of the leaf and stem, the plant wilts.

The volume of water lost in transpiration can be very high. It has been estimated that over the growing season, one acre of corn plants may transpire 400,000 gallons of water. As liquid water, this would cover the field with a lake 15 inches deep. An acre of forest probably does even better.