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Richard J. Crawford and David M. Eissenstat

The relationship of genotypic variation in root hair development with root proliferation, mycorrhizal colonization, and specific root length (length / dry mass) was studied in sixteen field-grown citrus relatives. The species varied widely in hair development, root length and mass density, and specific root length. No correlation was found between hair development, mycorrhizal colonization, root proliferation, and specific root length. However, there was a significant correlation (r=.55) between the percentage of total root length with hairs and the percentage of hairs with adhered soil. In a second experiment, the phenotypic plasticity in root hair development was studied in four-citrus rootstooks: Swingle citsumelo, Sour orange, Trifoliate orange and Volkamer lemon. Roots were grow” in either mineral soil or high organic matter media. After eight weeks, root length density and percentage of root length with hairs averaged over all four rootstocks was 232 % and 85 % greater in the organic media than in the mineral soil. Similar to the first experiment the percentage of total root length with hairs was significantly correlated (r=.99) with the percentage of hairs with adhered soil.

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T. Daw, T.J. Tworkoski, and D.M. Glenn

Shoot growth of peach trees can be managed by manipulating edaphic conditions such as root volume and soil fertility. In this experiment, 2-year-old peach trees (Prunus persica L. cv. Sentry on `Lovell' rootstock) were planted in pots with a split root design, so that half the roots were not treated and the other half received one of four treatments: root volume restricted with polypropylene nonwoven fabric (FAB), fertilizer alone (FER), FAB + FER, and untreated control (UTC). Total shoot growth and root growth were measured, and root growth in the split halves was compared. FER increased leaf number and weight by 48% and 60%, respectively, but not stem growth. Leaf nitrogen concentration and photosynthesis were greatest in FER treatment. FAB did not affect shoot weight or reduce total root weight or length, although roots did not grow past the fabric barrier. FER increased root weight and length (116% and 57%, respectively, compared to UTC) on the treated half but did not affect root growth on the untreated half. Greatest root growth occurred in the root half that received FAB + FER, particularly in the 5-cm soil segment proximal to the fabric (4.6 cm•cm-3 compared to 0.8 in UTC). Shoot length was greater in FAB + FER than FAB. Thus, fertilizer applied near fabric increased root growth and the combination of fertilizer and fabric may be used to regulate shoot growth. Specific root length (root length per gram dry weight) was highest in trees with no treatment, suggesting root acclimation to low nutrient soil conditions. Lower specific root length resulted in soils that were fertilized. The results indicate that nonwoven fabric restricts root growth in peach trees and reduces shoot elongation. The combined effect of fabric plus selected application of fertilizer may be used to regulate growth of peach trees.

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Chris A. Martin, Jean C. Stutz, and Robert W. Roberson

Effects of VAM fungal inoculum, Glomus intraradices Schenk & Smith, on the growth of Chilean mesquite in containers were investigated as part of a nursery container system for production of xeric trees. Seedling liners of Chilean mesquite were transplanted into 27-liter containers filled with a 3 pine bark : 1 peat moss : 1 sand medium. Before transplanting, 50% of the trees were band-inoculated at a depth of 8 to 12 cm below the growth medium surface with 35 g per container of Glomus intradices (Nutrilink, NPI, Salt Lake City, UT), approximately 1,000 spores g-1. All trees were top-dressed with 15 g Osmocote 18N-2.6P-9.9K (Grace-Sierra, Milpitas, CA) and 3 g Micromax (Grace-Sierra, Milpitas, CA) fertilizers and grown in a fiberglass greenhouse under 50% light exclusion. After 4 months, all inoculated tree root systems were colonized, and the percent infection was 47%. Noninoculated trees remained nonmycorrhizal. There were no differences in height, total shoot length, shoot dry weight, or root dry weight between inoculated and non-inoculated trees; however, total root length and specific root length of inoculated trees were less than those of noninoculated trees. These results suggest that the VAM fungi altered the root architecture of inoculated trees such that root systems of these trees had thicker roots with fewer fine roots elongating into the growth medium profile.

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R. Scorza, T.W. Zimmerman, J.M. Cordts, K.J. Footen, and M. Ravelonandro

`Wisconsin 38' tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) leaf discs were transformed with the disarmed Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA101 carrying the rolC gene from A. rhizogenes (Oono et al., 1987) and NPT II and GUS genes. Shoots that regenerated on kanamycin-containing medium were confirmed as transgenic through GUS assays, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Southern blot analyses, and transmission of the foreign genes through the sexual cycle. Transgenic plants were as short as half the height of control plants; were earlier flowering by up to 35 days; and had smaller leaves, shorter internodes, smaller seed capsules, fewer seeds, smaller flowers, and reduced pollen viability. The number of seed capsules, leaf number, and specific root length were similar between transgenic and control plants. Transgenic clones varied in the expression of the rolC-induced growth alterations as did the first generation of seedlings from these clones. Such differences suggested the potential for selecting for different levels of expression. Transformation with the rolC gene presents a potentially useful method of genetically modifying horticultural crops, particularly for flowering date, height, and leaf and flower size. Chemical names used: neomycin phosphotransferase (NPTII), β-glucuronidase (GUS).

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Chris A. Martin and Jean C. Stutz

Prosopis alba (mesquite) in 27-liter containers, either infected or noninfected with the VAM fungi, Glomus intraradix Schenk & Smith, during the container production phase were transplanted into a simulated landscape and irrigated at regular intervals or nonirrigated (irrigated only once at transplanting time). Mesquite shoot extension (SE), trunk diameter, rooting density (RD), specific root length density (SRLD), and VAM colonization levels were measured at 6 months and 1 year after transplanting. At 6 months, VAM colonization was observed only in the roots of inoculated mesquite, but by 12 months, roots of inoculated and noninoculated mesquite were colonized by VAM fungi. There were higher levels of VAM colonization in roots of irrigated mesquite (23%) in comparison to nonirrigated mesquite (5%). Irrigation promoted SE and VAM inoculation inhibited SE of nonirrigated trees. Trunk diameter was greater for irrigated trees than for nonirrigated trees and was not affected by VAM fungal treatment. At 6 months after transplanting, VAM fungal and irrigation treatments interacted to affect mesquite RD and SRLD. For irrigated mesquite, RD and SRLD were highest for VAM-inoculated mesquite, whereas for nonirrigated trees, RD and SRLD were highest for noninoculated trees. At 12 months after transplanting, mesquite RD and SRLD were higher for irrigated than for nonirrigated trees and were not affected by previous VAM inoculation.

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Charles S. Vavrina, Kathleen M. Brown, Robert Snyder, Mike Orzolek, and Jonathan P. Lynch

`FTE 30' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) transplants were produced in Florida under standard commercial conditions and supplied with one of six treatments: zero, low (20% of the control rate), or high (control) super-phosphate (SP) fertilizer, or 0.5%, 1%, or 2% buffered-phosphorous fertilizer (Al-P). Growth characteristics were evaluated for four sets of transplants, produced in January, April, May, and August. Two sets of transplants were grown in the field in Florida (started in January and August) and one set was grown in Pennsylvania during the summer (started in May). Phosphorus concentration in leachate was measured weekly from one crop. Plants grown with Al-P showed a 72% to 88% reduction in P released in leachate compared with the high SP control. Transplants produced with 1% or 2% Al-P were of equal size and quality compared with transplants produced with conventional (high SP) fertilization, and had greater total root length and specific root length (length per unit root weight). Transplants grown with 0.5% Al-P were sometimes smaller than other fertilized treatments, while no-P plants were very small and grew slowly after transplanting. There were no significant differences in growth, yield, or fruit quality of plants fromtransplants grown with 1% or 2% Al-P or high SP at either site. Therefore high quality tomato transplants can be produced using buffered-P fertilizer, while reducing P leaching from the containers.

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Conny W. Hansen and Jonathan Lynch

Whole-plant biomass accumulation, P dynamics, and root-shoot interactions during transition from vegetative to reproductive growth of `Coral Charm' chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum Ramat.) (Zander, 1993) were investigated over a range of P concentrations considered to be deficient (1 μm), adequate (100 μm), and high (5 mm). In nondeficient plants, transition from vegetative to reproductive growth resulted in reduced relative growth rate and root and shoot biomass accumulation. Reproductive plants showed a higher commitment of the whole plant to the production of developing flowers than to leaves and roots, whereas, in vegetative plants, the highest component production rate was in leaves. This indicates changes in the source-sink relationships during transition from vegetative growth making developing flowers stronger sinks for photoassimilates than roots. Phosphorus allocated to developing flowers was predominantly lost from leaves. Phosphorus-deficient plants showed characteristic P-deficiency symptoms and favored root growth over shoot growth regardless of growth stage. Phosphorus availability in nondeficient plants affected root growth more than shoot growth. No substantial differences in shoot biomass production, relative growth rate, and CO2 assimilation rates were observed in adequate-P and high-P plants. However, the root component production rate, root to shoot ratio, root length ratio, specific root length, specific root area, root mass to leaf area ratio, and root respiration increased in adequate-P plants compared with high-P plants, which indicates that high root activity was maintained without affecting shoot biomass in buffered P conditions. Our results suggest that the high P concentrations used in many horticultural systems may have no benefit in terms of shoot growth and may actually be detrimental to root growth.

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Bingru Huang

Drought is a major factor limiting the growth of turfgrasses in many areas. The functional relationship of drought stress and accumulation of various ions in turfgrasses is not well understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of drought on root growth and accumulation of several major nutrients in three tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) cultivars varying in drought tolerance (Falcon II = Houndog V > Rebel Jr). Grasses were grown in well-watered or drying (nonirrigated) soil for 35 days in a greenhouse. Drought conditions limited total root length to a greater extent for `Rebel Jr' than for `Falcon II' and `Houndog V', while specific root length (SRL) was greater in `Falcon II' and `Houndog V' than in `Rebel Jr'. Concentrations of N, P, and Mg decreased, whereas those of K, Ca, and Fe increased, in shoots of drought-stressed plants of all three cultivars. Root N was not affected, but root P decreased in `Rebel Jr', and root K decreased in all three cultivars under drought conditions. Drought reduced the proportions of N and P in shoots and increased those in roots, while increasing the proportion of K in shoots and decreasing that in roots. During drought stress, both `Falcon II' and `Houndog V' maintained higher K concentration in shoots, and `Falcon II' in roots, than did `Rebel Jr', but `Rebel Jr' and `Houndog V' had higher Fe concentration in shoots than did `Falcon II'. The higher K and lower Fe accumulations in shoots could contribute to better drought tolerance of tall fescue cultivars.

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J.P. Syvertsen, J.W Grosser, and L.S. Lee

We grew three diploid (2X) Citrus rootstock seedlings and their autotetraploids (4X) at elevated CO2 to obtain insights into limitations on growth and net gas exchange that have been associated with tetraploidy. Well-nourished Volkamer lemon (Volk), Troyer citrange (Troy), and Cleopatra mandarin (Cleo) were grown in greenhouses at ambient or twice ambient CO2 for 3 months. We measured plant growth, water relations, mineral nutrition, and net gas exchange characteristics of leaves. Overall, tetraploid roots were thicker as 4X had lower root length: dry weight ratio or specific root length (SRL) than 2X roots. Tetraploid plants were smaller and had higher root/shoot ratios, shorter fibrous roots, and lower whole plant transpiration than 2X. Tetraploids also had lower leaf N and P concentrations on a dry weight basis. Since 4X leaves had thicker leaves (more dry weight per area) than 2X leaves, these nutrient differences disappeared when expressed on an leaf area basis. Elevated CO2 increased plant growth but decreased leaf N, P, and K apparently by a growth dilution effect. Elevated CO2 also increased fibrous root thickness, leaf thickness, and net assimilation of CO2 (ACO2) but decreased stomatal conductance and transpiration such that leaf water use efficiency increased. There was no effect of ploidy level on ACO2 but 4X Volk and Troy had lower rates of ACO2 than their diploids at elevated CO2. Hydraulic conductivity of intact root systems (measured in a pressure pot) was correlated to total plant growth but variability obscured effects of CO2 or ploidy on root conductivity. The low SRL of tetraploids were correlated with lower rates of water use and lower leaf nutrient concentrations, which may be operative in determining the growth characteristics associated with tetraploidy.

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Georgios Psarras and Ian A. Merwin

One-year-old potted `Mutsu' apple (Malus domestica) trees on MM.111 and M.9 rootstocks were grown outdoors from May to Nov. 1997, under three levels of soil-water availability (–20, –80, and –200 kPa), to evaluate the effects of water stress on soil/root respiration and root morphology. At weekly intervals, we measured soil/root respiration using a portable infrared gas analyzer and rootsystem size or functional activity using an electric capacitance meter. These observations were tested as nondestructive methods to estimate relative differences in root size and morphology in situ compared with final dry weight and form of excavated apple rootstocks. Root size-class distributions were estimated by digital imaging and analysis of harvested root systems. Root growth was substantially reduced by water stress; the magnitude of reduction was similar for both rootstocks, but the percentage of shoot growth reduction was higher for MM.111. Root: shoot ratios were higher and average specific respiration rates over the growing season were lower for M.9 root systems. Water stress increased the root: shoot ratio, specific root length, and carbon costs of root maintenance as indicated by specific respiration rates. Soil/root respiration was more closely correlated than root electric capacitance with actual root system size. The observed r 2 values between root capacitance and root dry weight were as high as 0.73, but root capacitance was also confounded by other factors, limiting its usefulness for nondestructive estimation of root size or activity. Rootstock genotype significantly affected root capacitance, which provided better estimates of root dry weight for M.9 than for MM.111.