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The Coumarin Glucoside, Esculin, Reveals Rapid Changes in Phloem-Transport Velocity in Response to Environmental Cues

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-807
Number of pages13
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


The study of phloem transport and its vital roles in long-distance communication and carbon allocation have been hampered by a lack of suitable tools that allow high-throughput, real-time studies. Esculin, a fluorescent coumarin glucoside, is recognized by Suc transporters, including AtSUC2, which loads it into the phloem for translocation to sink tissues. These properties make it an ideal tool for use in live-imaging experiments, where it acts as a surrogate for Suc. Here, we show that esculin is translocated with a similar efficiency to Suc and, because of its ease of application and detection, demonstrate that it is an ideal tool for in vivo studies of phloem transport. We used esculin to determine the effect of different environmental cues on the velocity of phloem transport. We provide evidence that fluctuations in cotyledon Suc levels influence phloem velocity rapidly, supporting the pressure-flow model of phloem transport. Under acute changes in light levels, the phloem velocity mirrored changes in the expression of AtSUC2 This observation suggests that under certain environmental conditions, transcriptional regulation may affect the abundance of AtSUC2 and thus regulate the phloem transport velocity.

    Research areas

  • Membranes, Transport and Biogenetics

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