The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the elucidation of the process of plant organ growth at the cellular level by Julius Sachs (1870). In this Addendum to a Review Article in Molecular Plant, we describe this fundamental discovery and argue that the etiolated grass coleoptile still represents the system of choice for the experimental analysis of auxin (indole-3-acetic acid, IAA)-action. With reference to the phenomenon of ‘tissue tension’, we discuss the acid-growth hypotheses of IAA-induced wall loosening and the process of vacuolar expansion, respectively. IAA-mediated elongation appears to be independent of wall acidification, and may be regulated via the secretion of glycoproteins into the outer epidermal wall, whereby turgor (and tissue) pressure provides the ‘driving force’ for growth. As predicted by the “acid growth-hypothesis”, the fungal phytotoxin Fusicoccin (Fc) induces organ elongation via the rapid secretion of protons. We conclude that “cell elongation” can only be understood at the level of the entire organ that displays biomechanical features not established by single cells. This systems-level approach can be traced back to the work of Sachs (1870).


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