Interactive effects of phosphorus fertilization and salinity on plant growth, phosphorus and sodium status, and tartrate exudation by roots of two alfalfa cultivars

Rui Su, Zekun Zhang, Chao Chang, Qi Peng, Xiao Cheng, Jiayin Pang, Honghua He, Hans Lambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Soil phosphorus (P) deficiency and salinity are constraints to crop productivity in arid and semiarid regions. Salinity may weaken the effect of P fertilization on plant growth. We investigated the interactive effects of soil P availability and salinity on plant growth, P nutrition and salt tolerance of two alfalfa (Medicago sativa) cultivars. METHODS: A pot experiment was carried out to grow two cultivars of alfalfa in a loess soil under a combination of different rates of added P (0, 40, 80 and 160 mg P kg-1 soil as monopotassium phosphate) and sodium chloride (0, 0.4, 0.8 and 1.6 g NaCl kg-1 soil). Plant biomass, concentrations of P ([P]), sodium ([Na]) and potassium ([K]) were determined, and rhizosheath carboxylates were analysed. KEY RESULTS: There were significant interactions between soil P availability and salinity on some, but not all, of the parameters investigated, and interactions depended on cultivar. Plant growth and P uptake were enhanced by P fertilization, but inhibited by increased levels of salinity. Increasing the salinity resulted in decreased plant P-uptake efficiency and [K]/[Na]. Only soil P availability had a significant effect on the amount of tartrate in the rhizosheath of both cultivars. CONCLUSIONS: Increased salinity aggravated P deficiency. Appropriate application of P fertilizers improved the salt tolerance of alfalfa and increased its productivity in saline soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume129
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2022

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