Journal Article

Depression of sink activity precedes the inhibition of biomass production in tomato plants subjected to potassium deficiency stress

S. Kanai, K. Ohkura, J. J. Adu-Gyamfi, P. K. Mohapatra, N. T. Nguyen, H. Saneoka and K. Fujita

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 58, issue 11, pages 2917-2928
Published in print August 2007 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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Tomato [Solanum lycopersicum (formerly Lycopersicon esculentum) L. cv. Momotarou] plants were grown hydroponically inside the greenhouse of Hiroshima University, Japan. The adverse effects of potassium (K) deficiency stress on the source–sink relationship during the early reproductive period was examined by withdrawing K from the rooting medium for a period of 21 d. Fruits and stem were the major sink organs for the carbon assimilates from the source. A simple non-destructive micro-morphometric technique was used to measure growth of these organs. The effect of K deficiency was studied on the apparent photosynthesis (source activity), leaf area, partitioning 13C, sugar concentration, K content, and fruit and stem diameters of the plant. Compared with the control, K deficiency treatment severely decreased biomass of all organs. The treatment also depressed leaf photosynthesis and transport of 13C assimilates, but the impact of stress on these activities became evident only after fruit and stem diameter expansions were down-regulated. These results suggested that K deficiency diminished sink activity in tomato plants prior to its effect on the source activity because of a direct effect on the water status of the former. The lack of demand in growth led to the accumulation of sugars in leaves and concomitant fall in photosynthetic activity. Since accumulation of K and sugars in the fruit was not affected, low K levels of the growing medium might not have affected the fruit quality. The micro-morphometric technique can be used as a reliable tool for monitoring K deficiency during fruiting of tomato. K deficiency directly hindered assimilate partitioning, and the symptoms were considered more detrimental compared with P deficiency.

Keywords: Fruit and stem diameter; partitioning; potassium; tomato; micro-morphometry

Journal Article.  5885 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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