Passive phloem loading and long-distance transport in a synthetic tree-on-a-chip

Jean Comtet, Kaare Hartvig Jensen, Robert Turgeon, Abraham D. Stroock

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Vascular plants rely on differences in osmotic pressure to export sugars from regions of synthesis (mature leaves) to sugar sinks (roots, fruits). In this process, known as Münch pressure flow, the loading of sugars from photosynthetic cells to the export conduit (the phloem) is crucial, as it sets the pressure head necessary to power long-distance transport. Whereas most herbaceous plants use active mechanisms to increase phloem sugar concentration above that of the photosynthetic cells, in most tree species, for which transport distances are largest, loading seems, counterintuitively, to occur by means of passive symplastic diffusion from the mesophyll to the phloem. Here, we use a synthetic microfluidic model of a passive loader to explore the non-linear dynamics that arise during export and determine the ability of passive loading to drive long-distance transport. We first demonstrate that in our device, the phloem concentration is set by the balance between the resistances to diffusive loading from the source and convective export through the phloem. Convection-limited export corresponds to classical models of Münch transport, where the phloem concentration is close to that of the source; in contrast, diffusion-limited export leads to small phloem concentrations and weak scaling of flow rates with hydraulic resistance. We then show that the effective regime of convection-limited export is predominant in plants with large transport resistances and low xylem pressures. Moreover, hydrostatic pressures developed in our synthetic passive loader can reach botanically relevant values as high as 10 bars. We conclude that passive loading is sufficient to drive long-distance transport in large plants, and that trees are well suited to take full advantage of passive phloem loading strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17032
JournalNature Plants
Volume3
ISSN2055-026X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this

@article{085c5995861d472e8f3721e52d6fbecc,
title = "Passive phloem loading and long-distance transport in a synthetic tree-on-a-chip",
abstract = "Vascular plants rely on differences in osmotic pressure to export sugars from regions of synthesis (mature leaves) to sugar sinks (roots, fruits). In this process, known as M{\"u}nch pressure flow, the loading of sugars from photosynthetic cells to the export conduit (the phloem) is crucial, as it sets the pressure head necessary to power long-distance transport. Whereas most herbaceous plants use active mechanisms to increase phloem sugar concentration above that of the photosynthetic cells, in most tree species, for which transport distances are largest, loading seems, counterintuitively, to occur by means of passive symplastic diffusion from the mesophyll to the phloem. Here, we use a synthetic microfluidic model of a passive loader to explore the non-linear dynamics that arise during export and determine the ability of passive loading to drive long-distance transport. We first demonstrate that in our device, the phloem concentration is set by the balance between the resistances to diffusive loading from the source and convective export through the phloem. Convection-limited export corresponds to classical models of M{\"u}nch transport, where the phloem concentration is close to that of the source; in contrast, diffusion-limited export leads to small phloem concentrations and weak scaling of flow rates with hydraulic resistance. We then show that the effective regime of convection-limited export is predominant in plants with large transport resistances and low xylem pressures. Moreover, hydrostatic pressures developed in our synthetic passive loader can reach botanically relevant values as high as 10 bars. We conclude that passive loading is sufficient to drive long-distance transport in large plants, and that trees are well suited to take full advantage of passive phloem loading strategies.",
author = "Jean Comtet and Jensen, {Kaare Hartvig} and Robert Turgeon and Stroock, {Abraham D.}",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1038/nplants.2017.32",
language = "English",
volume = "3",
journal = "Nature Plants",
issn = "2055-026X",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",

}

Passive phloem loading and long-distance transport in a synthetic tree-on-a-chip. / Comtet, Jean; Jensen, Kaare Hartvig; Turgeon, Robert; Stroock, Abraham D.

In: Nature Plants, Vol. 3, 17032 , 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Passive phloem loading and long-distance transport in a synthetic tree-on-a-chip

AU - Comtet, Jean

AU - Jensen, Kaare Hartvig

AU - Turgeon, Robert

AU - Stroock, Abraham D.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Vascular plants rely on differences in osmotic pressure to export sugars from regions of synthesis (mature leaves) to sugar sinks (roots, fruits). In this process, known as Münch pressure flow, the loading of sugars from photosynthetic cells to the export conduit (the phloem) is crucial, as it sets the pressure head necessary to power long-distance transport. Whereas most herbaceous plants use active mechanisms to increase phloem sugar concentration above that of the photosynthetic cells, in most tree species, for which transport distances are largest, loading seems, counterintuitively, to occur by means of passive symplastic diffusion from the mesophyll to the phloem. Here, we use a synthetic microfluidic model of a passive loader to explore the non-linear dynamics that arise during export and determine the ability of passive loading to drive long-distance transport. We first demonstrate that in our device, the phloem concentration is set by the balance between the resistances to diffusive loading from the source and convective export through the phloem. Convection-limited export corresponds to classical models of Münch transport, where the phloem concentration is close to that of the source; in contrast, diffusion-limited export leads to small phloem concentrations and weak scaling of flow rates with hydraulic resistance. We then show that the effective regime of convection-limited export is predominant in plants with large transport resistances and low xylem pressures. Moreover, hydrostatic pressures developed in our synthetic passive loader can reach botanically relevant values as high as 10 bars. We conclude that passive loading is sufficient to drive long-distance transport in large plants, and that trees are well suited to take full advantage of passive phloem loading strategies.

AB - Vascular plants rely on differences in osmotic pressure to export sugars from regions of synthesis (mature leaves) to sugar sinks (roots, fruits). In this process, known as Münch pressure flow, the loading of sugars from photosynthetic cells to the export conduit (the phloem) is crucial, as it sets the pressure head necessary to power long-distance transport. Whereas most herbaceous plants use active mechanisms to increase phloem sugar concentration above that of the photosynthetic cells, in most tree species, for which transport distances are largest, loading seems, counterintuitively, to occur by means of passive symplastic diffusion from the mesophyll to the phloem. Here, we use a synthetic microfluidic model of a passive loader to explore the non-linear dynamics that arise during export and determine the ability of passive loading to drive long-distance transport. We first demonstrate that in our device, the phloem concentration is set by the balance between the resistances to diffusive loading from the source and convective export through the phloem. Convection-limited export corresponds to classical models of Münch transport, where the phloem concentration is close to that of the source; in contrast, diffusion-limited export leads to small phloem concentrations and weak scaling of flow rates with hydraulic resistance. We then show that the effective regime of convection-limited export is predominant in plants with large transport resistances and low xylem pressures. Moreover, hydrostatic pressures developed in our synthetic passive loader can reach botanically relevant values as high as 10 bars. We conclude that passive loading is sufficient to drive long-distance transport in large plants, and that trees are well suited to take full advantage of passive phloem loading strategies.

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JO - Nature Plants

JF - Nature Plants

SN - 2055-026X

M1 - 17032

ER -