Plantago major L. ssp. major, a grassland species from a relatively nutrient‐rich habitat, was grown in nutrient‐rich and nutrient‐poor culture solutions. Half of the plants were transferred from high to low or from low to high nutrient conditions. The rate of dry matter accumulation in both shoots and roots decreased slowly upon transfer of plants to low nutrient conditions and the shoot to root ratio was unaffected. The rate of structural growth of both roots and shoots increased upon transfer from low to high nutrient conditions and the shoot to root ratio, if calculated from non‐structural‐carbohydrate‐free dry weights, increased. Photosynthesis was largely independent of the nutrient supply. Root respiration, particularly the activity of the alternative oxidative pathway, decreased with increasing age. This decrease was ascribed to a decreased shoot to root ratio, which reduced the relative amount of carbohydrates translocated to the roots and thus the amount available for the alternative pathway. It is calculated that in young as well as in old plants grown in full nutrient solution 48% of the daily produced photosynthates was translocated to the roots. This is at variance with data on P. lanceolata, where a decreasing proportion of the daily produced photosynthates was translocated to the roots when the plants grew older. It is concluded that shoot growth plus shoot respiration consumed a constant amount of the daily produced photosynthates in P. major and that the rest was left for translocation. It is further calculated that in P. major plants grown in full nutrient solution c. 25% and c. 2% of the daily produced photosynthates in young and old plants, respectively, was respired in a way that is not involved in production of energy that is utilized in growth and maintenance (‘inefficient root respiration’). The results are discussed in comparison with those of P. lanceolata, a species from a relatively nutrient‐poor habitat.
Physiologia Plantarum – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1981
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