An in Vitro Potato Bioassay to Investigate Tuber Inductive Factors in Continuously Reused Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions

in HortScience
Authors: N.C. Yorio1 and G.W. Stutte1
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  • 1 Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code DYN-3, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

An experiment was conducted in the Biomass Production Chamber (BPC) at Kennedy Space Center to examine the effects of using continuously reused nutrient solution in an NFT system to support potato growth in batch and continuous planting scenarios. Tuberization was hastened and plant growth reduced on plants grown in the aged nutrient solution. We have previously reported that the effect is removed when the aged nutrient solution is filtered through activated charcoal. In order to investigate this apparent plant growth regulator response, an in vitro bioassay has been developed that allows for repeatable, small scale, and rapid testing of the tuber-inducing response. The bioassay is a liquid culture system that employs 600-mL Berzelius beakers capped with modified Sun transparent tissue culture bags, a light shield around the root zone, and a polyurethane foam support, which holds a micropropagated potato plantlet. With this bioassay, we have observed the same plant stunting and tuber initiation effects that were previously seen with the aged nutrient solution. The bioassay appears to be sensitive to environmental factors (PPF, photoperiod, and temperature) that influence tuberization. In addition, partially purified preparations of the apparent growth regulators have elicited the tuberization response. Currently, efforts are underway to examine the role of the microbial community associated with the BPC nutrient delivery system on the tuberization response.

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