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Cell Wall Loosening in the Fungus, Phycomyces blakesleeanus.


A considerable amount of research has been conducted to determine how cell walls are loosened to produce irreversible wall deformation and expansive growth in plant and algal cells. The same cannot be said about fungal cells. Almost nothing is known about how fungal cells loosen their walls to produce irreversible wall deformation and expansive growth. In this study, anoxia is used to chemically isolate the wall from the protoplasm of the sporangiophores of Phycomyces blakesleeanus. The experimental results provide direct evidence of the existence of chemistry within the fungal wall that is responsible for wall loosening, irreversible wall deformation and elongation growth. In addition, constant-tension extension experiments are conducted on frozen-thawed sporangiophore walls to obtain insight into the wall chemistry and wall loosening mechanism. It is found that a decrease in pH to 4.6 produces creep extension in the frozen-thawed sporangiophore wall that is similar, but not identical, to that found in frozen-thawed higher plant cell walls. Experimental results from frozen-thawed and boiled sporangiophore walls suggest that protein activity may be involved in the creep extension.