Restricted Phosphorus Fertilization Increases the Betacyanin Concentration and Red Foliage Coloration of Alternanthera

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Phosphorus (P) deficiency commonly results in the development of red-to-purple coloration in plant foliage, typically attributed to anthocyanins. Betacyanins are a red pigment found in some plant species that do not produce anthocyanins, including Alternanthera sp. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of P nutrition on the betacyanin concentration and subsequent foliar coloration of ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera (Alternanthera brasiliana). The purpose of this study was to determine whether P fertilization management could enhance the coloration and aesthetic appeal of alternanthera. Custom fertilizers provided P concentrations of 0, 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg·L−1 P. One-half of the plants from each P concentration were restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P 1 month after transplant to determine whether adequate size could be attained before withholding P. Differences in P response were observed among cultivars for hue, betacyanin content, and plant size. Concentrations ≤5 mg·L−1 P resulted in plants that were more compact in terms of plant height and diameter, had deeper red foliage coloration, and greater foliar betacyanins compared with plants grown with greater P concentrations. Plants initially grown with 5 or 10 mg·L−1 P attained marketable size before P restriction and developed more red pigmentation compared with plants grown with P for the remaining duration of the study. Regression analysis demonstrated height was maximized with 3 to 8 mg·L−1 P, diameter with 4.1 to 8.4 mg·L−1 P, and branching with 10.0 mg·L−1 P. Foliar betacyanin concentrations were greatest in plants grown without P, reaching 269 mg/100 g fresh weight, whereas plants grown with 10 or 20 mg·L−1 P were 95% less (averaged ≈13 mg/100 g fresh weight). This study demonstrates that P restriction can benefit the aesthetic appeal of alternanthera and provides the first confirmation that P nutrition is associated with betacyanin accumulation.

Contributor Notes

We are grateful for funding support provided by the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative, American Floral Endowment Altman Family Scholarship, and The Garden Club of America. We would also express our gratitude to Dümmen Orange for providing cuttings, and to SunGro Horticulture for providing peat moss.

This paper is a portion of a thesis submitted by Josh B. Henry in fulfilling a degree requirement.

Corresponding author. E-mail: josh.brady.henry@gmail.com.

Article Sections

Article Figures

  • View in gallery

    Images of (A) ‘Purple Prince’, (B) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and (C) ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera plants grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks. Within each image, the top row illustrates plants that received the same P concentration for the entire study, and the bottom row illustrates plants with P restricted to 0 mg·L−1 4 weeks after transplant.

  • View in gallery

    Quadratic plateau regression models for height of (A) ‘Purple Prince’ and (B) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ alternanthera plants grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks. X0 represents the P concentration at which the model plateaus and further increases in growth are not observed.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models illustrating diameter of (A) ‘Purple Prince’, (B) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and (C) ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera plants grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks. Data were similar between continuous and restricted treatments, so data were combined for ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Little Ruby’. X0 represents the P concentration at which the model plateaus and further increases in growth are not observed.

  • View in gallery

    Regression model illustrating the total number of axillary branches to develop on ‘Purple Prince’ alternanthera in response to 8 weeks of continuous fertilization using 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models demonstrating substrate electrical conductivity values for ‘Purple Prince’ alternanthera plants grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models demonstrating relative chlorophyll content (RCC) for ‘Purple Prince’ alternanthera foliage grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models demonstrating hue angle of (A) ‘Purple Prince’, (B) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and (C) ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera foliage grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models demonstrating (A) chroma and (B) lightness of ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ alternanthera foliage grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

  • View in gallery

    Regression models demonstrating ‘Purple Prince’ alternanthera foliar betacyanin concentrations in plants grown with 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 phosphorus (P) for 8 weeks or plants grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

  • View in gallery

    Correlation between foliar betacyanin concentrations and hue angle in (A) alternanthera (‘Purple Prince’) plants grown with continuous phosphorus (P) fertilization using 0, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 8 weeks or (B) alternanthera plants grown with 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 P for 4 weeks, and then restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P for an additional 4 weeks.

Article References

  • BaasR.BrandtsA.StraverN.1995Growth regulation of bedding plants and poinsettia using low phosphorous fertilization and ebb and flow irrigationActa Hort.378129137

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BeheB.NelsonR.BartonS.HallC.SafleyC.D.TurnerS.1999Consumer preferences for geranium flower color, leaf variegation, and priceHortScience34740742

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BerghageR.WolnickD.2000Consumer color preference in new guinea impatiensHortTechnology10206208

  • BoeschD.F.BrinsfieldR.B.MagnienR.E.2001Chesapeake Bay eutrophicationJ. Environ. Qual.30303320

  • BoldtJ.K.2013Foliar anthocyanins in coleus and ornamental grasses accumulation localization and function. Univ. Minnesota Minneapolis PhD Diss

  • BrockingtonS.F.WalkerR.H.GloverB.J.SoltisP.S.SoltisD.E.2011Complex pigment evolution in the CaryophyllalesNew Phytol.190854864

  • CaiY.SunM.WuH.HuangR.CorkeH.1998Characterization and quantification of betacyanin pigments from diverse Amaranthus speciesJ. Agr. Food Chem.4620632070

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CateT.M.PerkinsT.2003Chlorophyll content monitoring in sugar maple (Acer saccharum)Tree Physiol.2310771079

  • CavinsT.J.WhipkerB.E.FontenoW.2005Timing of PourThru affects pH, electrical conductivity, and leachate volumeCommun. Plant Soil Sci.3615731581

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChenR.SongS.LiX.LiuH.HuangD.2013Phosphorus deficiency restricts plant growth but induces pigment formation in the flower stalk of chinese kaleHort. Environ. Biotechnol.54243248

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ClementJ.MabryT.1996Pigment evolution in the Caryophyllales: A systematic overviewBot. Acta109360367

  • CobbinaJ.MillerM.1987Purpling in maize hybrids as influenced by temperature and soil phosphorusAgron. J.79576582

  • DerolesS.2009Anthocyanin biosynthesis in plant cell cultures: A potential source of natural colourants p. 107–167. In: K. Gould K.M. Davies and C. Winefield (eds.). Anthocyanins: Biosynthesis functions and applications. Springer New York NY

  • EhrendorferF.1976Closing remarks: Systematics and evolution of centrospermous familiesPlant Syst. Evol.12699106

  • GazulaA.KleinhenzM.D.ScheerensJ.C.LingP.P.2007Anthocyanin levels in nine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) cultivars: Influence of planting date and relations among analytic, instrumented, and visual assessments of colorHortScience42232238

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GiustiM.M.Rodríguez-SaonaL.E.WrolstadR.E.1999Molar absorptivity and color characteristics of acylated and non-acylated pelargonidin-based anthocyaninsJ. Agr. Food Chem.4746314637

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HansenC.W.NielsenK.L.2001Reduced phosphorus availability as a method to reduce chemical growth regulation and to improve plant quality p. 314–315. In: W.J. Horst M.K. Schenk A. Bürkert N. Claassen H. Flessa W.B. Frommer H. Goldbach H. Olfs V. Römheld B. Sattelmacher U. Schmidhalter S. Schubert N. von Wirén and L. Wittenmayer (eds.). Plant nutrition—Food security and sustainability of agro-ecosystems. Springer Dordrecht The Netherlands

  • HatierJ.H.B.GouldK.S.2009Anthocyanin function in vegetative organs p. 1–19. In: K. Gould K.M. Davies and C. Winefield (eds.). Anthocyanins: Biosynthesis functions and applications. Springer New York NY

  • HayakawaK.AgarieS.2010Physiological roles of betacyanin in a halophyte, Suaeda japonica MakinoPlant Prod. Sci.13351359

  • HenryA.LynchJ.P.ClarkD.G.ChopraS.2012Responses to low phosphorus in high and low foliar anthocyanin coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) and maize (Zea mays)Funct. Plant Biol.393264273

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HenryJ.B.McCallI.JacksonB.WhipkerB.E.2017Growth response of herbaceous ornamentals to phosphorus fertilizationHortScience5213621367

  • HenryJ.B.McCallI.WhipkerB.E.2018Phosphorus restriction as an alternative to chemical plant growth retardants in angelonia and new guinea impatiensHortTechnology28136142

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HernándezI.Munné-BoschS.2015Linking phosphorus availability with photo-oxidative stress in plantsJ. Expt. Bot.6628892900

  • HlavinkaJ.NaušJ.ŠpundováM.2013Anthocyanin contribution to chlorophyll meter readings and its correctionPhotosynth. Res.118277295

  • JainG.GouldK.S.2015aAre betalain pigments the functional homologues of anthocyanins in plants?Environ. Expt. Bot.1194853

  • JainG.GouldK.S.2015bFunctional significance of betalain biosynthesis in leaves of Disphyma australe under salinity stressEnviron. Expt. Bot.109131140

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JusticeA.FaustJ.E.2015Phosphorus-restriction as a potential technique to control Impatiens stem elongationActa Hort.1104914

  • LeónA.P.ViñaS.Z.FrezzaD.ChavesA.ChiesaA.2007Estimation of chlorophyll contents by correlations between SPAD-502 meter and chroma meter in butterhead lettuceCommun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal.3828772885

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lev-YadunS.GouldK.S.2009Role of anthocyanins in plant defense p. 21–48. In: K. Gould K.M. Davies and C. Winefield (eds.). Anthocyanins: Biosynthesis functions and applications. Springer New York NY

  • LiG.AubreyD.SunH.2017Predictive capability of a leaf optical meter for determining leaf pigment status during senescencePhotosynthetica55543552

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MadeiraA.C.FerreiraA.de VarennesA.VieiraM.I.2003SPAD meter versus tristimulus colorimeter to estimate chlorophyll content and leaf color in sweet pepperCommun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal.3424612470

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MajsztrikJ.C.Lea-CoxJ.D.2013Water quality regulations in the Chesapeake Bay: Working to more precisely estimate nutrient loading rates and incentivize best management practices in the nursery and greenhouse industryHortScience4810971102

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ManetasY.GrammatikopoulosG.KyparissisA.1998The use of the portable, non-destructive, SPAD-502 (Minolta) chlorophyll meter with leaves of varying trichome density and anthocyanin contentJ. Plant Physiol.153513516

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MarconiD.NelsonP.1984Leaching of applied phosphorus in container mediaScientia Hort.22275285

  • McGuireR.G.1992Reporting of objective color measurementsHortScience2712541255

  • MengelK.KirkbyE.A.KosegartenH.AppelT.2001Principles of plant nutrition. 5th ed. Kluwer Academic Publishers Dordrecht The Netherlands

  • MosseB.1973Plant growth responses to vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizaNew Phytol.72127136

  • NakashimaT.ArakiT.UenoO.2011Photoprotective function of betacyanin in leaves of Amaranthus cruentus L. under water stressPhotosynthetica49497506

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PanAmerican Seed Co2017GrowerFacts. Alternanthera ‘Purple Prince’ (Alternanthera brasiliana). Ball Horticultural Co. West Chicago IL

  • PlaxtonW.C.CarswellM.C.1999Metabolic aspects of the phosphate starvation response in plants p. 350–370. In: H.R. Lerner (ed.). Plant responses to environmental stresses: From phytohormones to genome reorganization. Marcel Dekker New York NY

  • PolturakG.AharoniA.2018“La Vie En Rose”: Biosynthesis, sources, and applications of betalain pigmentsMol. Plant11722

  • RajendranL.RavishankarG.VenkataramanL.PrathibaK.1992Anthocyanin production in callus cultures of Daucus carota as influenced by nutrient stress and osmoticumBiotechnol. Lett.14707712

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SarkerB.C.KarmokerJ.2011Effects of phosphorus deficiency on accumulation of biochemical compounds in lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.)Bangladesh J. Bot.402327

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sepúlveda-JiménezG.Rueda-BenítezP.PortaH.Rocha-SosaM.2004Betacyanin synthesis in red beet (Beta vulgaris) leaves induced by wounding and bacterial infiltration is preceded by an oxidative burstPhysiol. Mol. Plant Pathol.64125133

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShinK.MurthyH.HeoJ.PaekK.2003Induction of betalain pigmentation in hairy roots of red beet under different radiation sourcesBiol. Plant.47149152

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SilvaN.C.B.MacedoA.F.LageC.L.S.EsquibelM.A.SatoA.2005Developmental effects of additional ultraviolet a radiation, growth regulators and tyrosine in Alternanthera brasiliana (L.) Kuntze cultured in vitroBraz. Arch. Biol. Technol.48779786

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StagnariF.GalieniA.SpecaS.PisanteM.2014Water stress effects on growth, yield and quality traits of red beetScientia Hort.1651322

  • TanakaY.SasakiN.OhmiyaA.2008Biosynthesis of plant pigments: Anthocyanins, betalains and carotenoidsPlant J.54733749

  • UlrychováM.SosnováV.1970Effect of phosphorus deficiency on anthocyanin content in tomato plantsBiol. Plant.12231235

  • VogtT.IbdahM.SchmidtJ.WrayV.NimtzM.StrackD.1999Light-induced betacyanin and flavonol accumulation in bladder cells of Mesembryanthemum crystallinumPhytochemistry52583592

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • von ElbeJ.H.2001Spectrophotometric determination of betacyanins and betaxanthins. p. F3.1.1–F3.1.2. In: Current protocols in food analytical chemistry. Wiley New York NY

Article Information

Google Scholar

Related Content

Article Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 183 183 121
Full Text Views 16 16 3
PDF Downloads 9 9 3