Spinach is a leafy vegetable that requires a high N fertilization to have a satisfactory yield and quality, in part because it has poor nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). Therefore, there is a need to breed for cultivars with an excellent NUE. To this end the genetic diversity for NUE-related traits was studied in a diverse set of commercial cultivars. This set was evaluated in a hydroponic system using the Ingestad model; the system was set at a relative growth rate of 0.14 and 0.18 g g-1 day-1 (low and high N, respectively). Experiments were performed at low and high plant density. Traits monitored for single plants included fresh and dry weight, leaf area, specific leaf area, dry weight ratio between root and shoot, and chlorophyll content. The high density experiment showed more genotypic variation for the observed traits than the low density one. Biomass production was considerably lower at low than at high N. Path analysis revealed that leaf area had the highest direct effect on NUE, while specific leaf area was an important trait determining variation in NUE at low N. Slow and fast growing genotypes were shown to use different strategies to utilize N, and these strategies are expressed differently at high and low N availability. This indicates that improving spinach for NUE is feasible using the analysed genotypes as source material, and different strategies can be targeted for adaptation of spinach cultivars to low N conditions.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- nitrate accumulation
- crop plants