Dry Mass and Nitrogen Distribution in Papaya Seedlings in Response to Varied Fertilization of Divided Root Systems

in HortScience

`Known You 1' papaya seedlings were grown in split-root containers and fertilizer was applied to one (1/2) or two (2/2) halves of the root system to determine the influence on transport of assimilates from canopy to roots and transport of nitrogen from fertilized roots to non-fertilized roots and canopy. Following 6 weeks of growth, the plants were bare-rooted and the root system halves and canopy were dried to constant mass at 70°C. Tissue was then analyzed for total nitrogen content. Fertilization increased root mass more than 250% and total plant mass 300% compared with control plants, which received no fertilization during the 6 weeks. Total root or plant mass did not differ between the 1/2 and 2/2 plants. Roots were evenly distributed between the two halves for 2/2 plants, but the fertilized half in the 1/2 plants accounted for 60% of the total root mass. Nitrogen content of roots and canopy were increased by fertilization. Nitrogen content of the non-fertilized roots of 1/2 plants was not different from that of the fertilized roots. These results indicate that fertilizing a portion of the papaya root system increased the sink activity of that portion and that the absorbed nitrogen from that portion is efficiently transported throughout the plant.

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