Plant and Soil

, Volume 248, Issue 1–2, pp 257–268

Interaction of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition in determining growth

  • Corine C. de Groot
  • Leo F. M. Marcelis
  • Riki van den Boogaard
  • Werner M. Kaiser
  • Hans Lambers


In this paper we discuss the differences and similarities in the growth response of tomato plants to N and P limitation, and to their interaction. Two detailed growth experiments, with varied N or P supply, were conducted in order to unravel the effects of N and P limitation on growth of young tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Relative growth rate (RGR) initially increased sharply with increasing plant P concentration but leveled off at higher plant P concentrations. In contrast, RGR increased gradually with increasing plant N concentration before it leveled off at higher plant N concentrations. The relationship of RGR with organic leaf N and P showed the same shape as with total N and P concentrations, respectively. The difference in response is most likely due to the different roles of N and P in the machinery of the plant's energy metabolism (e.g., photosynthesis, respiration). Plant N concentration decreased with increasing P limitation. We show that this decrease cannot be explained by a shift in dry-mass partitioning. Our results suggest that the decrease in N concentration with increasing P limitation may be mediated by a decrease in leaf cytokinin levels and is less likely due to decreased energy availability at low P conditions. Dry-mass partitioning to the roots was closely linearly related to the leaf reduced-N concentration. However, treatments that were severely P limited deviated from this relationship.

cytokinins dry-mass partitioning Lycopersicon esculentum nitrogen–phosphorus interaction relative growth rate tomato 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corine C. de Groot
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Leo F. M. Marcelis
    • 1
  • Riki van den Boogaard
    • 2
  • Werner M. Kaiser
    • 4
  • Hans Lambers
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Plant Research InternationalWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Agrotechnological Research Institute (ATO)WageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Plant EcophysiologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Julius-von-Sachs-Institut of BiosciencesUniversity of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany
  5. 5.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  6. 6.Plant EcophysiologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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