The influence of P nutrition on gas exchange, plant development, and nutrient uptake of Capsicum annuum chile ancho `San Luis' and bell pepper `Jupiter' plants was studied. Plants were fertilized weekly using 250 ml of a modified Long-Ashton solution, containing 0, 11, 22, 44, 66 or 88 μg P/ml. Phosphorus stress was evident with both pepper cultivars at 0 and 11 μg P/ml, with reduced plant growth and development: leaf number and area and fruit, leaf, stem, root, shoot, and total plant dry weight. The root: shoot ratio was greatest at 0 μg P/ml, reflecting greater dry matter partitioning to the root system. Greater P stress occurred at 0 μg·ml–1 in `San Luis' compared to `Jupiter' (88% vs. 58% reduction in total plant dry weight compared to optimum P response). `San Luis' was also more sensitive to P stress at 11 μg P/ml than `Jupiter', as indicated by the greater reduction in growth responses. With increasing P nutrition, leaf tissue P increased in both cultivars with maximum leaf tissue P at 88 μg P/ml. In `San Luis', there were no differences in tissue P between plants treated with 0 and 11 μg P/ml, whereas the `Jupiter' plants treated with 0 μg P/ml had the lowest tissue P. Low P plants generally had the highest tissue N and lowest S, Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Mo, and Al. With both cultivars, gas exchange was lowest at 0 μg P/ml, as indicated by low transpiration (E), stomatal conductance (gs), and net photosynthesis (A). Internal CO2 (Cj) and vapor pressure deficit were generally highest at 0 μg P/ml, indicating that Cj was accumulating with lower gs, E, and A in these P-stressed plants. Generally, no P treatments exceeded the gas exchange levels obtained by 44 μg P/ml (full strength LANS) plants.
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