Growth, water use efficiency, and proline content of hydroponically grown tomato plants as affected by nitrogen source and nutrient concentration.
Tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Counter) were grown in 12-L polyethylene containers in aerated and CaCO3-buffered nutrient solutions containing different concentrations of complete stock solutions with either nitrate (stock solution N) or ammonium (stock solution A) as the only nitrogen source (X1 = standard concentration with 5 mM NO3–N or NH4+-N, and X3, X5.5, X8 and X11 = 3, 5.5, 8, 11 times the standard concentration), or a mixture of both stock solutions (N:A ratio = 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, 0:100) at moderate nutrient concentration (X3). Total dry matter production and fruit dry weight were only slightly affected by increasing nutrient concentration if nitrate was supplied as the sole nitrogen source. Compared to nitrate, ammonium nitrogen caused a decrease in total dry weight (32 – 86% between X1 and X11), but led to an increase in both total dry weight and fruit dry weight (11% and 30%) at low concentration if supplied in addition to nitrate nitrogen (N:A ratio = 75:25). Dry matter partitioning in plants was affected by the strength of the nutrient solution, but even more by ammonium nitrogen. Fruits accumulated relatively less dry matter than did the vegetative parts of tomato plants when supplied with nutrient solutions containing ammonium as the only nitrogen source (fruit dry weight to total dry weight ratio 0.37 and 0.15 at low and high nutrient concentration), while nitrate nitrogen rather supported an increase in dry matter accumulation in the reproductive organs (fruit dry weight to total dry weight ratio 0.39-0.46). The water use efficiency (WUE) was only slightly affected by the strength of the nutrient solutions containing nitrate nitrogen (2.9-3.4 g DW (kg H2O)-1), while ammonium nitrogen led to a decrease in WUE from 2.4 to 1.3 g DW (kg H2O)-1 at low (X1) and high (X11) nutrient concentration, respectively. The proline content of leaves fluctuated (0.1-5.0 µmol (g fresh weight)-1) according to nutrient concentration and global radiation, and reflected enhanced sensitivity of plants to these potential stress factors if ammonium was the predominant N source supplied. It was concluded, that proline is a reliable indicator of the environmental stress imposed on hydroponically grown tomato plants.
Claussen, W. 2002. Growth, water use efficiency, and proline content of hydroponically grown tomato plants as affected by nitrogen source and nutrient concentration. Plant and Soil 247 (2), 199-209