Evidence that Rhizospheric Calcium Level Modulates Potato Plant Response to Heat Stress

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706-1590

Micropropagated `Red Norland' plants were transferred to an inert mixture of 1 perlite: 1 medium-grain quartzite (v/v) and grown 21 days at 20°C day/15°C night on a 25% Hoagland solution without Ca(NO3)2 (Ca at 10 mg·L–1 from CaCl2, N at 35 mg·L–1 from KNO3). Thereafter, Ca treatments (Ca at 0.2, 1, 5, 25, 125 mg·L–1) were imposed for 21 days with other nutrients unchanged. Day/night temperatures were 20/15°C and 35/20°C for control and stress plants, respectively. Continuous drip supply of nutrient solution in excess of demand maintained target rhizospheric Ca levels. All experiments were conducted in controlled-environment chambers with 400-μmol·m–2·s–1 light level. The following results were obtained. 1) Stress, but not control, plants grown with Ca at 0.2 and 1.0 mg·L–1 displayed reduced leaf expansion, extreme senescence, and death of the primary shoot meristem. 2) Plants grown with Ca at 5, 25 and 125 mg·L–1 grew normally under both temperature regimens, although plants responded to temperature with different biomass partitioning. (3) Total root mass at harvest was similar under all Ca–temperature combinations but low-Ca-treated plants had comparatively darker roots with fewer branches. (4) Light microscopic evaluation revealed normal staining patterns of lignified elements in leaves and stems of all plants. These data suggest that constant rhizospheric Ca levels >1 mg·L–1 are required for continued plant growth during exposure to heat stress.

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