Phosphorus-zinc interactions in cotton: consequences for biomass production and nutrient-use efficiency in photosynthesis

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The fragmentary information on phosphorus (P) x zinc (Zn) interactions in plants warrants further study, particularly in plants known for their high P and Zn requirements, such as cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of P x Zn interactions in a modern cultivar of cotton grown hydroponically. Biomass, mineral nutrition and photosynthetic parameters were monitored in plants receiving contrasting combinations of P and Zn supply. Root biomass, length and surface area were similar in plants with low P and/or low Zn supply to those in plants grown with high P and high Zn supply, reflecting an increased root/shoot biomass quotient when plants lack sufficient P or Zn for growth. Increasing P supply and reducing Zn supply increased shoot P concentrations, whilst shoot Zn concentrations were influenced largely by Zn supply. A balanced P x Zn supply (4 mM P x 4 mu M Zn) enabled greatest biomass accumulation, while an imbalanced supply of these nutrients led to Zn deficiency, P toxicity or Zn toxicity. Net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance, transpiration rate and instantaneous carboxylation efficiency increased as P or Zn supply increased. Although increasing P supply reduced the P-use efficiency in photosynthesis (PUEP) and increasing Zn supply reduced the Zn-use efficiency in photosynthesis (ZnUEP), increasing Zn supply at a given P supply increased PUEP and increasing P supply at a given Zn supply increased ZnUEP. These results suggest that agricultural management strategies should seek for balanced mineral nutrition to optimize yields and resource-use efficiencies.



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Physiologia Plantarum. Hoboken: Wiley, v. 166, n. 4, p. 996-1007, 2019.