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Cellular response to osmotic stress is critical for survival and involves volume control through the regulated transport of osmolytes [1-3]. Organelles may respond similarly to abrupt changes in cytoplasmic osmolarity [4-6]. The plastids of the Arabidopsis thaliana leaf epidermis provide a model system for the study of organellar response to osmotic stress within the context of the cell. An Arabidopsis mutant lacking two plastid-localized homologs of the bacteria mechanosensitive channel MscS (MscS-like [MSL] 2 and 3) exhibits large round epidermal plastids that lack dynamic extensions known as stromules [7]. This phenotype is present under normal growth conditions and does not require exposure to extracellular osmotic stress. Here we show that increasing cytoplasmic osmolarity through a genetic lesion known to produce elevated levels of soluble sugars, exogenously providing osmolytes in the growth media, or withholding water rescues the msl2-1 msl3-1 leaf epidermal plastid phenotype, producing plastids that resemble the wild-type in shape and size. Furthermore, the epidermal plastids in msl2-1 msl3-1 leaves undergo rapid and reversible volume and shape changes in response to extracellular hypertonic or hypotonic challenges. We conclude that plastids are under hypoosmotic stress during normal plant growth and dynamic response to this stress requires MSL2 and MSL3.


Author version after review. Published in final form in Current Biology, 22, issue 5 (2012), 408-13. DOI: Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

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