Physiological and Biochemical Changes on the Roots of Aeroponically Grown, Phosphate-starved Tomatoes

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Phosphate starvation in plants results in altered biochemical and physiological responses. We are interested in understanding the changes that occur in response to phosphate starvation in the roots of tomato plants. Plants were grown in an aeroponic system developed by L.A. Peterson at the Univ. of Wisconsin. Aeroponically grown tomato plants were treated with various concentrations of phosphate, ranging from to 250 mM. Phosphate-starved plants exhibited significantly higher root to shoot ratios and a 40% decrease in the chlorophyll content of the leaves. Several changes in essential nutrient content were also observed. The phosphate concentration of both root and shoot tissues decreased as the Pi content of the nutrient solution decreased. Whereas the ratio of phosphate content in roots compared to the shoots did not change significantly in response to Pi starvation. Phosphate-starved plants accumulated significantly higher amount of magnesium in stem tissues. Furthermore, it also resulted in an increased accumulation of potassium in roots. Interestingly, the total extractable RNA from phosphate-starved roots was 1/5th of that of control roots. There was also a noticeable decrease (50%) in the total extractable RNA content of leaves from phosphate-starved plants.

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