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Rumana Yeasmin, Stephen P. Bonser, Satoru Motoki, and Eiji Nishihara

Environmental conditions, specifically heat stress, are important factors in asparagus crop production. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have been shown to increase plant growth. Effects of heat stress on nutrient uptake have rarely been examined in intact plants, but the limited results indicate that heat stress will decrease uptake; no studies have examined heat stress effects on asparagus nutrient uptake. We examined the effects of AMF, Glomus intraradices, on the growth, nutrient uptake, heat stress responses, and antioxidative activity in asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.). We grew AMF-inoculated or non–AMF-inoculated asparagus plants in sand culture at 20 to 25 °C for 14 weeks in a greenhouse and subsequently subjected to three temperature conditions (control = 20 °C/25 °C night/day, mild heating = 30 °C/35 °C night/day, and severe heating = 37 °C/42 °C night/day) in growth chambers. Morphological and physiological growth parameters were compared between AMF-inoculated and non–AMF-inoculated plants. The mycorrhizal symbiosis markedly enhanced biomass production and heat stress responses negatively in plants compared with that in the non–AMF-inoculated plants. Plants grown under non–AMF-inoculated treatment had severe rate of leaf browning (80% to 100%), whereas the mycorrhizal plants showed a minimum rate of leaf browning under heat stress conditions. The results indicated mycorrhizal-inoculated plants showed an increase activity of antioxidative enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and ascorbate peroxidase. The 2,2-diphenyl-1picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging activity also showed a greater response in mycorrhizal plants than in the control plants under each temperature treatment. Application of AMF enhanced plant growth and mineral nutrients and alleviated heat stress damage through an increased antioxidative activity and the mycorrhizal symbiosis significantly enhanced heat stress tolerance of asparagus.

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Satoru Motoki, Takumi Taguchi, Ayaka Kato, Katsuhiro Inoue, and Eiji Nishihara

Asparagus is a popular vegetable rich in healthy functional components. However, the process of its production leaves ferns from aboveground parts and roots from underground parts as unusable parts, and this is an issue to be resolved. In our previous studies, large amounts of rutin were noted in the cladophylls and storage roots (brown and epidermis), and the protodioscin content was high in buds, in the soil-covered section of spears, and in rhizomes. This study was conducted to examine the distribution of growth-inhibitory activity and mineral contents in different parts of asparagus. Correlations, including representative functional components (rutin and protodioscin), were examined. The results suggest there are differences in growth-inhibitory activity of different parts of asparagus. The growth-inhibitory activity was strong in the buds, rhizome, and absorptive and storage roots, and weak in the cladophylls and lateral branches. The percent N content of the aboveground part of asparagus was high compared with that in the aboveground part of other crops. Although the percent K content was similar to the mean of the aboveground part of other crops, it was higher than that in general green manure, suggesting the residual stems and leaves of the aboveground part of asparagus are effective green manure. In the aboveground part of asparagus, the rutin content and percent N and K content were higher, whereas growth-inhibitory activity tended to be low, suggesting that when no disease developed in the aboveground part, it can be used as an organic substance.