Interaction of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition in determining growth

C.C. de Groot, L.F.M. Marcelis, R. van den Boogaard, W.M. Kaiser, H. Lambers

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    135 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper we discuss the differences and similarities in the growth response of tomato plants to N and P limitation, and to their interaction. Two detailed growth experiments, with varied N or P supply, were conducted in order to unravel the effects of N and P limitation on growth of young tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Relative growth rate (RGR) initially increased sharply with increasing plant P concentration but leveled off at higher plant P concentrations. In contrast, RGR increased gradually with increasing plant N concentration before it leveled off at higher plant N concentrations. The relationship of RGR with organic leaf N and P showed the same shape as with total N and P concentrations, respectively. The difference in response is most likely due to the different roles of N and P in the machinery of the plant's energy metabolism (e.g., photosynthesis, respiration). Plant N concentration decreased with increasing P limitation. We show that this decrease cannot be explained by a shift in dry-mass partitioning. Our results suggest that the decrease in N concentration with increasing P limitation may be mediated by a decrease in leaf cytokinin levels and is less likely due to decreased energy availability at low P conditions. Dry-mass partitioning to the roots was closely linearly related to the leaf reduced-N concentration. However, treatments that were severely P limited deviated from this relationship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)257-268
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number39479
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • ricinus-communis l
    • phaseolus-vulgaris
    • triticum-aestivum
    • nitrate uptake
    • intact plants
    • abscisic-acid
    • p deficiency
    • root ratio
    • cytokinins
    • phosphate


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