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John W. Pote, Chhandak Basu, Zhongchun Jiang, and W. Michael Sullivan

Leaching-induced N losses have been shown to be minimal under turfgrasses. This is likely due to superior ability of turfgrasses to absorb nitrate. No direct evidence for this theory has been reported. The present study quantified nitrate leaching under miniature turf and nitrate uptake by individual turfgrass plants, and established the relationship between nitrate leaching loss and nitrate uptake rate. Seedlings of six Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars, `Blacksburg', `Barzan', `Connie', `Dawn', `Eclipse', and `Gnome', were planted individually in polystyrene containers filled with silica sand. The plants were irrigated with tap water or a nutrient solution containing 1 mm nitrate on alternate days and mowed to a 5-cm height once each week for 25 weeks. Nitrate leaching potential was then determined by applying 15 to 52 mL of nutrient solutions containing 7 to 70 mg·L-1 nitrate-N into the containers and collecting leachate. After the leaching experiment, plants were excavated, roots were washed to remove sand, and the plants were grown individually in containers filled with 125 mL of a nutrient solution containing 8.4 mg·L-1 nitrate-N. Nitrate uptake rate was determined by monitoring nitrate depletion at 24-hour intervals. Leachate nitrate-N concentration ranged from 0.5 to 6 mg·L-1 depending on cultivar, initial nitrate-N concentration, irrigation volume, and timing of nitrate-N application. Significant intraspecific difference in nitrate uptake rate on a root length basis was observed. Nitrate uptake rate on a per plant basis was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) and negatively correlated (r = -0.65) with nitrate leaching loss. The results provide strong evidence that superior nitrate uptake ability of turfgrass roots could reduce leaching-induced nitrate-N losses.

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Zhongchun Jiang, W. Michael Sullivan, and Richard J. Hull

Efficient utilization of fertilizer-nitrogen (N) by turfgrasses is probably related to N uptake efficiency of roots and metabolic efficiency of absorbed N in roots and shoots. This study evaluated Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars for potential differences in nitrate uptake rate (NUR), temporal variation in NUR, and the relationship between NUR and N use efficiency (NUE), defined as grams dry matter per gram N. Six cultivars were propagated from tillers of seeded plants, grown in silica sand, mowed weekly, and watered daily with a complete nutrient solution containing 1.0 mm nitrate. A nutrient depletion method from an initial nitrate concentration of 0.5 mm was used to determine NUR of 5-month-old plants. NUR (μmol·h-1 per plant) of the six cultivars ranked as follows: `Blacksburg' > `Conni' > `Dawn' > `Eclipse' = `Barzan' > `Gnome'. When NUR was based on root weight, `Conni' ranked highest; when NUR was based on root length, surface, or volume, `Eclipse' ranked highest. Averaged across cultivars, NUR on the second day was greater than NUR for the first day of nitrate exposure. Temporal variation was greatest in `Blacksburg', while none was noted in `Conni' or `Eclipse'. Cultivar differences in NUE were significant in fibrous roots, rhizomes, and leaf sheaths, but not in leaf blades and thatch. Total nitrate uptake was positively related to total N recovered and total plant dry matter, but NUR based on root weight was negatively correlated with NUE of the whole plant.

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W. Michael Sullivan, Zhongchun Jiang, and Richard J. Hull

Efficient use of nitrogen by turfgrasses depends on the ability of roots to absorb and assimilate nitrate. If a larger amount of nitrate is assimilated in the roots than in the shoots and organic N is transported to shoots as needed, nitrogen loss through clipping removal would be reduced. However, the ability of roots to assimilate nitrate depends on carbohydrate supply from the shoots. Our study examined the relationship between nitrate assimilation and photosynthate partitioning between shoots and roots of tall fescue grown in nutrient solution. To alter the pattern of nitrate reduction and photosynthate partitioning, we treated the plants as follows: 1) nutrient solution was aerated and nitrate was supplied to the roots, 2) nutrient solution was not aerated and nitrate was supplied to the roots, 3) nutrient solution was aerated and nitrogen was supplied to the leaves as nitrate, and 4) nutrient solution was aerated, and nitrogen was supplied to the leaves as urea. Photosynthate partitioning was assessed using carbon-14 as a tracer. Nitrate and nitrite reductase activities were determined by in vivo methods. Fortyeight hours after the grass leaves were exposed to carbon-14, >60% of the fixed carbon was translocated to stems and >15% to roots. Foliar application of urea resulted in less export of fixed carbon from leaves and lower leaf nitrite reductase activity than when nitrate was supplied to leaves. Less than 5% of the plant total nitrate reduction was attributed to root based activity. Root aeration decreased root nitrate reductase activity. Our results suggest that root-zone aeration and foliar N application could affect total nitrate assimilation and photosynthate partitioning to roots.

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Yuexia Wang, Chhandak Basu, Zhongchun Jiang, and W. Michael Sullivan

It has been suggested that shoot demand for nitrogen controls nitrate uptake in plant roots. In turfgrasses, shoots are partly removed by regular mowing, which may severely alter nitrate uptake ability. However, reported groundwater nitrate concentrations under intensively managed turf are well below the USEPA maximum contaminant limit of 10 mg·L-1 nitrate-N in potable water. We hypothesize that the turfgrass root can also exert significant control over its nitrate uptake ability. The present study was to test this hypothesis by comparing nitrate uptake rates of excised roots and intact, whole plants of six Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars. Three replications or cultures of each cultivar were grown in sand for 15 months. For whole-plant nitrate uptake, the roots were placed in a flask filled with 200 mL of a nutrient solution containing 0.125 mm nitrate. Nitrate depletion was monitored at 20-minute intervals over an 8-hour period under ≈600 μmol·m-2·s-1 photosynthetic photon flux density. After the whole-plant experiment, the plants were placed in an N-free nutrient solution for 15 hours, and the roots were then excised. The excised roots were placed in a beaker containing 60 mL of the 0.125-mm nitrate nutrient solution and nitrate depletion was monitored at 20-minute intervals over a 6-hour period. Whole-plant nitrate uptake rate differed significantly (P ≤ 0.05) among cultivars and was twice that of excised roots. Excised root nitrate uptake rate exhibited no cultivar difference but was positively and significantly (P ≤ 0.05) correlated with whole-plant nitrate uptake rate. Our results indicate that turfgrass roots exert substantial control over nitrate uptake.

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Zhongchun Jiang, W. Michael Sullivan, Carl D. Sawyer, and Richard J. Hull

Turfgrass cultivars that have superior nitrate uptake ability are needed for the protection of ground water from pollution by excess nitrate. Information on temporal variation of nitrate absorption is also needed to enhance the environmental safety of turfgrass N fertilization programs. Our objectives were to evaluate Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars for their differences in nitrate uptake rate (NUR) and temporal variation in NUR. Six cultivars (Barzan, Blacksburg, Connie, Dawn, Eclipse, and Gnome) were propagated from individual tillers and six plants of each cultivar were generated from one mother plant. Plants were grown in silica sand, mowed weekly, and watered daily with half-strength modified Hoagland's nutrient solution containing 1 mM nitrate. When 5 months old, the plants were excavated, the roots were washed to remove sand, and the plants were transferred to 120-mL black bottles. After 24 hours in tap water, the plants were supplied with half-strength nutrient solution containing 0.5 mM nitrate, and the solutions were replaced daily for 8 days. NURs expressed as micromoles per plant per hour were calculated from solution nitrate depletion data. Significant genotypic differences in NUR were found: `Blacksburg' > `Connie' > `Dawn' > `Barzan' = `Eclipse' > `Gnome'. Significant temporal variation in NUR was also found, with NUR on the second day more than the first day after tap water. A significant interaction was noted between genotype and time. Temporal variation was greatest in `Blacksburg', while none noted in `Connie' and `Eclipse'. In `Barzan' and `Gnome', NUR on the last day was higher than the first day.

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W. Michael Sullivan, Zhongchun Jiang, Richard J. Hull, and Carl D. Sawyer

Intraspecific variation in nitrate absorption by turfgrasses has been studied, but differences in turfgrass root morphology, which may contribute to observed variation, have not been ascertained. This information may benefit breeding programs aimed at improving the ability of turfgrasses to absorb nitrate from low fertility soils. This study quantified root morphological traits of Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars and their nitrate uptake rates (NUR). Tiller-generated plants were grown in silica sand, mowed weekly, and watered daily with half-strength modified Hoagland's nutrient solution containing 1 mM nitrate. When 5 months old, plants were excavated, and roots washed to remove sand. The plants were then transferred to 120-mL black bottles. After nitrate depletion of the nutrient solution was monitored for 8 consecutive days, the underground portion of each plant was separated into three parts: 1) adventitious roots, 2) fibrous roots, and 3) rhizomes. Measurements of total root length, total surface area, and average diameter were made by a scanning and image analysis system. NURs were calculated from nitrate depletion data and expressed as micromoles per plant per hour. Correlation analyses were performed on these morphological traits and NUR by the Minitab program. NUR was significantly and positively correlated with the total biomass, length, and area of the three underground parts. This was attributable mainly to fibrous roots as indicated by significant and positive correlations between NUR and the total biomass, length, area, and average diameter of fibrous roots. NUR was also positively correlated with the total biomass, length, and area of adventitious roots but negatively correlated with total biomass, area, and average diameter of rhizomes.

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Larry D. Howery, Dale L. Nolte, Lawrence M. Sullivan, and Michael W. Kilby

The objective of our experiment was to determine if the application of two deer repellents to six grape cultivars (Vitis vinifera L.) caused significant phytotoxic effects, production losses, or altered the sensory characteristics of wine. We evaluated fifteen single vine plants from six different cultivars in a randomized block design that included the two repellent treatments and an untreated control. During spring 1997, we applied repellents biweekly from budbreak until flowering (2 Apr. to 14 May). Plantskyyd was applied more frequently than recommended by the product label (for trees) due to rapid emergence of unprotected shoot growth in vineyards. Hot Sauce and Plantskydd caused some initial minor phytotoxicity during 1997, however, the yield and phytotoxicity of treated plants were similar to controls by harvest. A panel detected a significant difference in the color, aroma, or taste of `Chardonnay' wine made from grapes treated with repellents compared to wine made from untreated control grapes (P = 0.001 for Hot Sauce; P = 0.05 for Plantskydd). We conclude that Hot Sauce and Plantskydd did not cause serious production losses or phytotoxic effects for the six cultivars treated. However, both Hot Sauce and Plantskydd significantly altered the sensory attributes of Chardonnay wine, which may preclude the use of chemical repellents in wine grape vineyards under the experimental conditions applied in our study.