Carboxylate release of wheat, canola and 11 grain legume species as affected by phosphorus status

Stuart Pearse, Erik Veneklaas, Greg Cawthray, Michael Bolland, Hans Lambers

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    The capacity of plant roots to increase their carboxylate exudation at a low plant phosphorus (P) status is an adaptation to acquire sufficient P at low soil P availability. Our objective was to compare crop species in their adaptive response to a low-P availability, in order to gain knowledge to be used for improving crop P-acquisition efficiency from soils that are low in P or that have a high capacity to retain P. In the present screening study we compared 13 crop species., grown in sand at either 3 or 300 mu M of P, and measured root mass ratio, cluster-root development, rhizosphere pH and carboxylate composition of root exudates. Root mass ratio decreased with increasing P supply for Triticum aestivum L., Brassica napus L., Cicer arietinum L. and Lens culinaris Medik., and increased only for Pistum sativitum L., while the Lupinus species and Vicia faba L. were not responsive. Lupinus species that had the potential to produce root clusters either increased or decreased biomass allocation to clusters at 300 mu M of P compared with allocation at 3 mu M of P. All Lupinus species acidified their rhizosphere more than other species did, with average pH decreasing from 6.7 (control) to 4.3 for Lupinus pilosus L. and 5.9 for Lupinus atlanticus L.; B. napus maintained the most alkaline rhizosphere, averaging 7.4 at 300 mu M of P. Rhizosphere carboxylate concentrations. were lowest for T. aestivum, B. napus, V. faba, and L. culinaris than for the other species. Exuded carboxylates were mainly citrate and malate for all species, with the exception of L. culinaris and C arietinum, which produced mainly citrate and malonate. Considerable variation in the concentration of exuded carboxylates and protons was found, even with a genus. Cluster-root forming species did not invariably have the highest concentrations of rhizosphere carboxylates. Lupinus species varied both in P-uptake and in the sensitivity of their cluster-root development to external P supply. Given the carbon cost of cluster roots, a greater plasticity in their formation and exudation (i.e. reduced investment in cluster roots and exudation at higher soil P, a negative feedback response) is a desirable trait for agricultural species that may have variable access to readily available P.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-139
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1/2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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