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Nutrient and assimilate partitioning in two tropical maize cultivars in relation to their tolerance to soil acidity

Abstract : The use of Al-tolerant and P-efficient maize cultivars is an important component of a successful production system on tropical acid soils with limited lime and P inputs. Grain yield and secondary plant traits, including root and aboveground biomass, nutrient content and leaf development, were evaluated from 1996 to 2002 in field experiments on an Oxisol in order to identify maize characteristics useful in genetic improvement. Here we present the results of the 2002 trial and compare them with previous results. The aim of this experiment was to assess the effect of assimilate and nutrient partitioning on the growth and grain yield of two tropical cultivars having different Al tolerance (CMS36, tolerant, Spectral, moderately tolerant). The soil had an Al saturation of 36% in topsoil (pH 4.5) and>45% below 0.3 mdepth (pH 4.2). Measurements made from emergence to grain filling included: root, stem and leaf biomass, P and N content, leaf area index (LAI), radiation use efficiency (RUE), soil available N and root profiles at anthesis. The experiments consisted of two P treatments, zero applied or 45 kg P ha 1 ( P and +P). All the treatments received N and K fertilizers. In P, root biomass and LAI at anthesis were twice as great in CMS36 as in Spectral. In +P the differences between cultivars were negligible. Roots were deeper in CMS36 due to its higher Al tolerance. Total biomass and grain yield were not strongly related to root biomass and LAI. Other factors such as the leaf biomass and the amount of nutrients per unit leaf area were highly correlated with RUE and biomass. In P, Spectral had the same total biomass but a higher grain yield than CMS36 (2.1 Mg ha 1 versus 1.5 Mg ha 1). This was due to a higher leaf P content (+40%), a greater RUE (+74%), and a lower number of sterile plants. In +P, CMS36 had higher total biomass and grain yield (4.1 Mg ha 1 versus 3.1 Mg ha 1). This was due to its higher leaf P (+25%) and leaf N (+43%) contents, and an increased RUE (+130%) that were associated with higher P and N uptake. Our results indicated that although root tolerance to Al toxicity is necessary for good crop performance on acid soils, assimilate and nutrient partitioning in the aboveground organs play a major role in plant adaptation and may partially compensate for a lower root tolerance.
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Jorge Sierra, Harry Ozier Lafontaine, Lydie Dufour, Alexis Meunier, Raymond Bonhomme, et al.. Nutrient and assimilate partitioning in two tropical maize cultivars in relation to their tolerance to soil acidity. Field Crops Research, Elsevier, 2006, 95 (2-3), pp.234-249. ⟨10.1016/j.fcr.2005.03.002⟩. ⟨hal-02666964⟩



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