Journal Article

Phosphorus Enhances Al Resistance in Al-resistant <i>Lespedeza bicolor</i> but not in Al-sensitive <i>L. cuneata</i> Under Relatively High Al Stress

Qing Bin Sun, Ren Fang Shen, Xue Qiang Zhao, Rong Fu Chen and Xiao Ying Dong

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 5, pages 795-804
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Phosphorus Enhances Al Resistance in Al-resistant Lespedeza bicolor but not in Al-sensitive L. cuneata Under Relatively High Al Stress

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Aluminium (Al) toxicity and phosphorus (P) deficiency often co-exist in acidic soils and limit crop production worldwide. Lespedeza bicolor is a leguminous forage species that grows very well in infertile, acidic soils. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of Al and P interactions on growth of Lespedeza and the distributions of Al and P in two different Al-resistant species, and to explore whether P can ameliorate the toxic effect of Al in the two species.


Two species, Lespedeza bicolor and L. cuneata, were grown for 30 d with alternate Al and P treatments in a hydroponics system. Harvested roots were examined using a root-system scanner, and the contents of Al, P and other nutrient elements in the plants were determined using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). Haematoxylin staining was used to observe the distribution of Al in the roots of seedlings. After pre-culture with or without P application, organic acids in the exudates of roots exposed to Al were held in an anion-exchange resin, eluted with 2 m HCl and then analysed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Key Results Lespedeza bicolor

exhibited a stronger Al resistance than did L. cuneata; Al exclusion mechanisms may mainly be responsible for resistance. P application alleviated the toxic effect of Al on root growth in L. bicolor, while no obvious effects were observed in L. cuneata. Much less Al was accumulated in roots of L. bicolor than in L. cuneata after P application, and the P contents in both roots and shoots increased much more for L. bicolor than for L. cuneata. Lespedeza bicolor showed a higher P/Al ratio in roots and shoots than did L. cuneata. P application decreased the Al accumulation in root tips of L. bicolor but not in L. cuneata. The amount of Al-induced organic acid (citrate and malate) exudation from roots pre-cultured with P was much less than from roots without P application; no malate and citrate exudation was detected in L. cuneata.


P enhanced Al resistance in the Al-resistant L. bicolor species but not in the Al-sensitive L. cuneata under relatively high Al stress, although P in L. cuneata might also possess an alleviative potential. Enhancement of Al resistance by P in the resistant species might be associated with its more efficient P accumulation and translocation to shoots and greater Al exclusion from root tips after P application, but not with an increased exudation of organic acids from roots.

Keywords: Lespedeza bicolor; L. cuneata; Al toxicity; Al resistance; root morphology; phosphorus

Journal Article.  5646 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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