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Isaac T. Mertz, Nick E. Christians, and Adam W. Thoms

Amino acids have been reported to improve turfgrass growth compared with mineral nutrition; however, amino acid catabolism in plants has not been well studied. A number of turfgrass fertilizers contain amino acids; however, some amino acids may be more effective additives in fertilizers than others. Three amino acids that could be effective nitrogen sources for plant growth are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The BCAA leucine (L), isoleucine (IL), and valine (V) could be effective additives because they are nonpolar and hydrophobic, which can promote plant uptake of these compounds. Although the effect of exogenously applied BCAA on plant growth is not well known, BCAAs have been reported to increase protein synthesis in humans, and that rate of increase is related to the intake ratio of L to IL and V. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of L, IL, and V as a nitrogen sources on creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and to investigate the effect of BCAAs on plant growth when all three are applied as a combination. Using specially made rooting tubes, L, IL, and V were applied in a complete factorial and compared with equal urea nitrogen at four rates, as well as an untreated control. Where all three BCAAs were applied in combination, the application ratios of 2:1:1 and 4:1:1 (L:IL:V) were tested. At 63 days after seeding, there were no differences in root length, root weight, or shoot weight; however, BCAA 2:1:1 and 4:1:1 increased creeping bentgrass shoot density by 24% and 32%, respectively, compared with equal urea nitrogen. Where shoot density was increased, nitrogen application rate had no effect. On the basis of these results, BCAAs applied in a complete combination using ratios of 2:1:1 or 4:1:1 (3.03 lb/acre N) will provide a greater creeping bentgrass shoot density compared with equal urea nitrogen.

Open access

Isaac T. Mertz, Nick E. Christians, and Adam W. Thoms

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine (L), isoleucine (IL), and valine (V) are synthesized in plants and are essential to growth in most organisms. These compounds can be absorbed by the plant when foliarly applied, but plant catabolism of BCAA is not completely understood. A recent study observed that BCAA applied in a 2:1:1 or 4:1:1 ratio (L:IL:V) increased creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) shoot density compared with applications of equal urea nitrogen (N) at 3.03 lb/acre N. The present study investigated whether those increases could translate to a quicker establishment rate of creeping bentgrass grown from seed in standard greenhouse pots. The BCAA applications were compared with equal N applications using urea and a commercially available amino acid product. All N treatments were applied at 3.03 lb/acre N, per application and applied a total of four times on a 14-day interval starting 14 days after seeding. Measurements included final shoot density counts and root and shoot weights, as well as digital image analysis of percent green cover for each greenhouse pot every 7 days. No differences were observed after 70 days in shoot weight, or percent green cover between BCAA treatments and urea; however, BCAA 2:1:1 and 4:1:1 increased shoot density 21% and 30%, respectively, compared with urea, and were equal to the commercially available amino acid product. Applications of BCAA 4:1:1 also increased creeping bentgrass rooting weight by a factor of 7 compared with urea N.