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Meng Wei, Aijun Zhang, Hongmin Li, Zhonghou Tang and Xiaoguang Chen

Nitrogen (N) is an essential macronutrient limiting plant growth and quality of leaf-vegetable sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas Lam). The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of N deficiency and re-supply on growth, physiology, and amino acids in sweetpotato. Two leaf-vegetable sweetpotato cultivars, Pushu 53 and Tainong 71, were subjected to three treatments in hydro-culture: 1) N sufficiency, 2) N deficiency, and 3) N deficiency and subsequently with N re-supply. Compared with N sufficiency, N deficiency caused a decrease in vine growth, carotenoid and chlorophyll content (Chlt), root viability, photosynthesis, and nitrate reductase (NR) activity in both cultivars, but to a great extent in Tainong 71. Whereas N deficiency increased root growth and glutamine synthetase (GS) activity in both cultivars, and the increase in ‘Tainong 71’ was more obvious. Re-supply of N recovered the vine growth, root viability, Chlt, photosynthesis, NR, and GS activity, to a greater extent for ‘Pushu 53’ than for ‘Tainong 71’. N deficiency significantly decreased essential amino acids, including lysine, phenylalanince, isoleucine, tryptophane, leucine, and valine contents and nonessential amino acids, consisting of glutamic acid, aspartic acid, glycine, argnine, and proline content in both cultivars. These results indicated that the light leaf color leafy sweetpotato ‘Tainong 71’ is sensitive to the N availability and the dark green leaf color ‘Pushu 53’ is more tolerant to low N, which appear to reflect the differential response of two cultivars to their different adaptability to N availability.

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Ming Liu, Aijun Zhang, Xiaoguang Chen, Rong Jin, Hongmin Li and Zhonghou Tang

Potassium (K+) is an essential nutrient element for the growth and development of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.]. To investigate growth and physiological responses to K+ deficiency during early growth stage of sweetpotato, two representative cultivars with different tolerance to K+ deficiency were chosen. The seedlings of ‘Xushu 32’ (tolerance to K+ deficiency) and ‘Ningzishu 1’ (sensitive to K+ deficiency) were cultured in three different K+ concentrations (K0: 0 mmol·L−1 K+; K1: 5 mmol·L−1 K+; and K2: 20 mmol·L−1 K+, the control) of nutrient solution. Results showed that the extreme K+ deficiency (K0) significantly reduced the total dry weight, leaf number, root length, and chlorophyll content (CCI) compared with K2. However, the growth traits of ‘Xushu 32’ were less suppressed than those of ‘Ningzishu 1’. The net photosynthetic rate (P n), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration rate (T r) of ‘Ningzishu 1’ were significantly decreased in K0 and K1 (low K+), whereas ‘Xushu 32’ showed no significant change in K1 treatment. Increasing minimal fluorensence (F 0) of ‘Ningzishu 1’ comes with decreased maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II (PSII) photochemistry (F v/F m) and photochemical quenching (q P) at K0 treatment. However, all the chlorophyll fluorescence parameters in ‘Xushu 32’ were nonsignificantly changed by K+ deficiency (K0 and K1). These results suggest that ‘Xushu 32’ could maintain a better growth state to adapt to K+ deficiency stress, which may be mainly because of a lighter affected photosynthesis and a less damaged PSII reaction center.