Can Bicarbonate Enhance the Performance of Carob Seedlings Grown in Nutrient Solutions with Different Fe Concentrations?

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The aim of this work was to assess the effect of bicarbonate (Bic) ion on the nutritional status and performance of carob-tree seedlings, a species that normally grows in calcareous soil without exhibiting iron chlorosis symptoms. Seedlings were previously grown in nutrient solution with a small concentration of Fe (0.5–1 μM) to induce a moderate chlorosis. Afterwards, two experiments were established: in experiment 1, plants were grown for 21 days in the following treatments: Fe deficiency (Fe0), 0.5 μM Fe, 5 μM Fe, and 5 μM Fe plus calcium carbonate (CaCO3). After assessing these results, a second experiment was conducted for 91 days, with the following treatments: Fe0, 1 μM Fe, 40 μM Fe and 40 μM Fe plus CaCO3 and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Chlorophyll of young leaves, biomass and mineral composition of leaves, stems and roots were assessed in both experiments. The ferric chelate reductase root activity (FC-R) and the genetic expression of calmodulin-regulated Ca2+-ATPase pump (ACA gene) were evaluated in experiment 2. Fe-deficient plants exhibited reduced growth and enhanced macronutrients in leaves. Root micronutrient homeostasis changed as an adaptive mechanism in carob. The addition of bicarbonate did not aggravate Fe chlorosis, as leaf chlorophyll increased significantly. Root FC-R activity and ACA gene expression was not enhanced under Fe deficiency induced by bicarbonate (Fe40 + BicNa) which suggest a positive effect of bicarbonate in the metabolism of this crop. Nevertheless, small Fe concentrations (Fe1) induced a higher ACA gene expression thus indicating some stress response signalling.

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  • 10 December 2019

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This study was funded by the National Project from the FCT—the Foundation for Science and Technology: PTDC/AGR-ALI/100115/2008 and FEDER Funds through the Operational Program for Competitiveness Factors - COMPETE. It also received funding from FCT as part of the Strategic Project: PEst-C/AGR/UI0115/2011. Florinda Gama is thankful to FCT for the PhD Grant SFRH/BD/89521/2012.

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P.J. Correia wrote the manuscript. F. Gama and T. Saavedra executed the hydroponic experiments and were responsible for the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data. G. Nolasco and S. Dandlen supervised the gene expression study. A. de Varennes was responsible for mineral composition analysis. P.J. Correia and M. Pestana contributed to the experimental layout and discussion of the results.

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Correspondence to Florinda Gama.

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Gama, F., Correia, P.J., Saavedra, T. et al. Can Bicarbonate Enhance the Performance of Carob Seedlings Grown in Nutrient Solutions with Different Fe Concentrations?. J Soil Sci Plant Nutr 20, 55–65 (2020).

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  • Calmodulin-regulated Ca2+-ATPase pump
  • Ceratonia siliqua L.
  • HCO3
  • Iron chlorosis
  • Nutrients
  • Root FC-R