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Regulation of Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in Legume Root Nodules
Open AccessArticle

Phosphorus and Nitrogen Modulate Plant Performance in Shrubby Legumes from the Iberian Peninsula

Department of Physical, Chemical and Natural Systems, University Pablo de Olavide, 41013 Seville, Spain
Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 7602 Matieland, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(9), 334;
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 23 August 2019 / Accepted: 4 September 2019 / Published: 6 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Ecology)
We investigated the impact of phosphorus nutrition on plant growth and biological nitrogen fixation in four leguminous plants in the Tribe Genistea. The main objective of the study was to analyze Phosphorus and Nitrogen use efficiency under drought. We also tested for the effects of rhizobial inoculation on plant performance. Plants inoculated with Rhizobium strains isolated from plants of the four species growing in the wild were cropped under controlled conditions in soils with either low P (5 µM) or high P (500 µM). The experiment was replicated in the presence and absence of plant irrigation to test for the effects of drought stress of inoculated and non-inoculated plants under the two P levels of fertilization. Low-P treatments increased nodule production while plant biomass and shoot and root P and N contents where maximum at high P. Low P (5 µM) in the growing media, resulted in greater N accumulated in plants, coupled with greater phosphorus and nitrogen uptake efficiencies. Drought reduced the relative growth rate over two orders of magnitude or more, depending on the combination of plant species and treatment. Genista cinerea had the lowest tolerance to water scarcity, whereas Genista florida and Retama sphaerocarpa were the most resistant species to drought. Drought resistance was enhanced in the inoculated plants. In the four species, and particularly in Echinospartum barnadesii, the inoculation treatment clearly triggered N use efficiency, whereas P use efficiency was greater in the non-inoculated irrigated plants. Nodulation significantly increased in plants in the low P treatments, where plants showed a greater demand for N. The physiological basis for the four species being able to maintain their growth at low P levels and to respond to the greater P supply, is through balanced acquisition of P and N to meet the plants’ nutritional needs. View Full-Text
Keywords: phosphate; nitrogen; drought; Genistea; nutrients use efficiency phosphate; nitrogen; drought; Genistea; nutrients use efficiency
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Pérez-Fernández, M.; Míguez-Montero, Á.; Valentine, A. Phosphorus and Nitrogen Modulate Plant Performance in Shrubby Legumes from the Iberian Peninsula. Plants 2019, 8, 334.

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