Plant and Soil

, Volume 371, Issue 1–2, pp 281–297 | Cite as

Shoot growth, root growth and resource capture under limiting water and N supply for two cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.)

  • P. J. Kerbiriou
  • T. J. Stomph
  • P. E. L. Van Der Putten
  • E. T. Lammerts Van Bueren
  • P. C. Struik
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and aims

To improve vegetable crops adapted to low input and variable resource availability, better understanding is needed of root system functioning, including nitrogen and water capture.

Methods

This study quantified shoot and root development and patterns of water and nitrate capture of two lettuce cultivars subjected to temporary drought at two development stages (Trial 1) or to continuous, localized drought and/or nitrate shortage (Trial 2).

Results

In Trial 1, early drought slowed down shoot and root growth, whereas late drought enhanced root proliferation in the top 0.1 m. Nitrate capture during drought was sustained by increased nitrate inflow from deeper layers. Plants did not recover fully from drought after re-watering. In Trial 2, root proliferation was stimulated in the drier soil compartment partially compensating reduced water availability and nitrate mobility. Under nitrate shortage, root proliferation was enhanced in the compartment where nitrate was more abundant, irrespective of water availability.

Conclusions

Changes observed in the root system are ‘feed-forward’ mechanisms to sustain resource capture in a limiting growing environment. The type of stress (drought or nitrate shortage) affects coping strategies; nitrate concentration in the soil solution, combined with the nutritional status of the plant will determine the stress response.

Keywords

Lettuce Resource capture Resource use efficiency Root system architecture Drought Nitrate Lactuca sativa 

Abbreviations

DST

Drought Stress applied in the Top compartment

DST + NSB

Drought Stress applied in the Top compartment combined with Nutrient Stress applied in the Bottom compartment

DW

Dry Weight (g)

ED

Early Drought

FW

Fresh Weight (g)

L

Litre

LD

Late Drought

NST

Nutrient Stress applied in the Top compartment

NST + DSB

Nutrient Stress applied in the Top compartment combined with Drought Stress applied in the Bottom compartment

NUE

Nitrogen Use Efficiency (g DM g−1 N per plant)

QTL

Quantitative Trait Loci

SLA

Specific Leaf Area (m2 g−1)

LA

Total Leaf Area (m2 per plant)

TLN

Total Leaf Number per plant

TRL

Total Root Length per plant

WUE

Water Use Efficiency (g DM L−1 water)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Kerbiriou
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. J. Stomph
    • 2
  • P. E. L. Van Der Putten
    • 2
  • E. T. Lammerts Van Bueren
    • 1
  • P. C. Struik
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant BreedingWageningen URWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Crop Systems AnalysisWageningen URWageningenThe Netherlands

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