Calcium Uptake and Whole-plant Water Use Influence Pod Calcium Concentration in Snap Bean Plants

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Understanding the mechanisms that regulate xylem transport of calcium (Ca) to snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) pods could allow approaches to increase pod Ca concentration and enhance the nutritional value of edible pods. Using the snap bean cultivars Hystyle and Labrador, which exhibit high and low pod Ca levels, respectively, we wished to determine whether there were differences between the two cultivars in stem xylem-sap Ca concentration and whether any differences in sap Ca concentration were related to differences in whole-plant water uptake or Ca import between the cultivars. Well-watered greenhouse-grown plants were placed in a growth chamber at a constant light intensity for an equilibration period. Pot weight loss was measured to determine whole-plant water use and stem xylem exudate was subsequently collected from the severed base of the shoot at flowering and at two stages of pod development. `Hystyle' displayed an exudate Ca concentration that was 50% higher than `Labrador' during pod development. `Labrador' showed 35% greater total water transport through the stem than `Hystyle'. `Labrador' plants also showed a significantly larger leaf area than `Hystyle' plants. Additional plants were used to determine total, long-term Ca influx. No difference was observed between cultivars in total Ca influx into the aerial portion of the plant. With whole-shoot Ca influx being equivalent and pod transpiration rate identical in the two cultivars, our results suggest that the higher whole-plant water uptake in `Labrador' led to a dilution of Ca concentration in the xylem stream and thus less total Ca was transported to developing pods, relative to that in `Hystyle'. Increased transpiration efficiency, enhanced root uptake of Ca, or reduced Ca sequestration in the xylem pathway of the stem could lead to an enhancement in pod Ca concentration in future cultivars of snap bean.

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