The Effect of Potassium Deficiency on Growth and Physiology in Sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] during Early Growth

in HortScience

Potassium (K+) is an essential nutrient element for the growth and development of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.]. To investigate growth and physiological responses to K+ deficiency during early growth stage of sweetpotato, two representative cultivars with different tolerance to K+ deficiency were chosen. The seedlings of ‘Xushu 32’ (tolerance to K+ deficiency) and ‘Ningzishu 1’ (sensitive to K+ deficiency) were cultured in three different K+ concentrations (K0: 0 mmol·L−1 K+; K1: 5 mmol·L−1 K+; and K2: 20 mmol·L−1 K+, the control) of nutrient solution. Results showed that the extreme K+ deficiency (K0) significantly reduced the total dry weight, leaf number, root length, and chlorophyll content (CCI) compared with K2. However, the growth traits of ‘Xushu 32’ were less suppressed than those of ‘Ningzishu 1’. The net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gS), and transpiration rate (Tr) of ‘Ningzishu 1’ were significantly decreased in K0 and K1 (low K+), whereas ‘Xushu 32’ showed no significant change in K1 treatment. Increasing minimal fluorensence (F0) of ‘Ningzishu 1’ comes with decreased maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II (PSII) photochemistry (Fv/Fm) and photochemical quenching (qP) at K0 treatment. However, all the chlorophyll fluorescence parameters in ‘Xushu 32’ were nonsignificantly changed by K+ deficiency (K0 and K1). These results suggest that ‘Xushu 32’ could maintain a better growth state to adapt to K+ deficiency stress, which may be mainly because of a lighter affected photosynthesis and a less damaged PSII reaction center.

Contributor Notes

This study was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20151162), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31461143017-2), and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China with funds earmarked for the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-11-B-13) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201403039).

Contributed equally.

Corresponding author. E-mail: zhonghoutang@sina.com.

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