Is the Inherent Potential of Maize Roots Efficient for Soil Phosphorus AcquisitionReport as inadecuate

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Sustainable agriculture requires improved phosphorus P management to reduce the overreliance on P fertilization. Despite intensive research of root adaptive mechanisms for improving P acquisition, the inherent potential of roots for efficient P acquisition remains unfulfilled, especially in intensive agriculture, while current P management generally focuses on agronomic and environmental concerns. Here, we investigated how levels of soil P affect the inherent potential of maize Zea mays L. roots to obtain P from soil. Responses of root morphology, arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization, and phosphate transporters were characterized and related to agronomic traits in pot and field experiments with soil P supply from deficiency to excess. Critical soil Olsen-P level for maize growth approximated 3.2 mg kg−1, and the threshold indicating a significant environmental risk was about 15 mg kg−1, which represented the lower and upper levels of soil P recommended in current P management. However, most root adaptations involved with P acquisition were triggered when soil Olsen-P was below 10 mg kg−1, indicating a threshold for maximum root inherent potential. Therefore, to maintain efficient inherent potential of roots for P acquisition, we suggest that the target upper level of soil P in intensive agriculture should be reduced from the environmental risk threshold to the point maximizing the inherent potential of roots.

Author: Yan Deng, Keru Chen, Wan Teng, Ai Zhan, Yiping Tong, Gu Feng, Zhenling Cui, Fusuo Zhang, Xinping Chen



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