Reduced frequency of lateral root branching improves N capture from low-N soils in maize

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Suboptimal nitrogen (N) availability is a primary constraint for crop production in developing countries, while in developed countries, intensive N fertilization is a primary economic, energy, and environmental cost for crop production. We tested the hypothesis that under low-N conditions, maize (Zea mays) lines with few but long (FL) lateral roots would have greater axial root elongation, deeper rooting, and greater N acquisition than lines with many but short (MS) lateral roots. Maize recombinant inbred lines contrasting in lateral root number and length were grown with adequate and suboptimal N in greenhouse mesocosms and in the field in the USA and South Africa (SA). In low-N mesocosms, the FL phenotype had substantially reduced root respiration and greater rooting depth than the MS phenotype. In low-N fields in the USA and SA, the FL phenotype had greater rooting depth, shoot N content, leaf photosynthesis, and shoot biomass than the MS phenotype. The FL phenotype yielded 31.5% more than the MS phenotype under low N in the USA. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that sparse but long lateral roots improve N capture from low-N soils. These results with maize probably pertain to other species. The FL lateral root phenotype merits consideration as a selection target for greater crop N efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2055-2065
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Volume66
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

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corn soils
Zea mays
branching
Soil
Phenotype
phenotype
rooting
South Africa
crop production
corn
shoots
Photosynthesis
Developed Countries
Fertilization
developed countries
Biomass
inbred lines
Developing Countries
developing countries
root growth

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

Cite this

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Reduced frequency of lateral root branching improves N capture from low-N soils in maize. / Zhan, Ai; Lynch, Jonathan P.

In: Journal of experimental botany, Vol. 66, No. 7, 01.04.2015, p. 2055-2065.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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