Critical phosphorus requirements of Trifolium species: The importance of root morphology and root acclimation in response to phosphorus stress

Adeline Becquer, Rebecca E. Haling, Anne Warren, Rowan Alden Hull, Adam Stefanski, Alan E. Richardson, Megan H. Ryan, Daniel R. Kidd, Hans Lambers, Graeme A. Sandral, Richard J. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

Differences in root morphology and acclimation to low-phosphorus (P) soil were examined among eight legume species from the Trifolium Section Tricocephalum to understand how these root attributes determine P acquisition. Ornithopus sativus was included as a highly P-efficient benchmark species. Plants were grown as microswards in pots with five rates of P supplied in a topsoil layer to mimic uneven P distribution within a field soil profile. Topsoil and subsoil roots were harvested separately to enable measurement of the nutrient-foraging responses. Critical P requirement (lowest P supply for maximum yield) varied over a threefold range, reflecting differences in root morphology and acclimation of nutrient-foraging roots to P stress. Among the species, there was a 3.2-fold range in root length density, a 1.7-fold range in specific root length, and a 2.1-fold range in root hair length. O. sativus had the lowest critical P requirement, displayed a high root length density, the highest specific root length, and the longest root hairs. Acquisition of P from P-deficient soil was facilitated by development of a large root hair cylinder (i.e. a large root-soil interface). This, in turn, was determined by the intrinsic root morphology attributes of each genotype, and the plasticity of its root morphology response to internal P stress. Root acclimation in low-P soil by all species was mostly associated with preferential allocation of mass to nutrient-foraging roots. Only O. sativus and four of the Trifolium species adjusted specific root length beneficially, and only O. sativus increased its root hair length in low-P soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030 - 1047
Number of pages18
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Volume173
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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