Main content area

Effect of potassium application in drought-stressed tobacco (Nicotiana rustica L.) plants: Comparison of root with foliar application

Bahrami-Rad, Sara, Hajiboland, Roghieh
Annals of agricultural science 2017 v.62 no.2 pp. 121-130
Nicotiana rustica, biomass, carbohydrates, drought, foliar application, leaf water potential, leaves, photosynthesis, plant growth, potassium, proline, roots, tobacco, transpiration, turgor, water content, water stress, water use efficiency
Effect of potassium (K) application through leaves (LA) or roots (RA) was studied in tobacco plants grown under K deficiency and drought stress conditions. Application of K was effective in improving the shoot growth only under drought conditions, whereas root biomass and length responded under both watering regimes. Under drought conditions, photosynthesis and transpiration activities increased upon K application leading to a reduced water use efficiency. Both RA and LA increased the leaf water potential, relative water content and turgor under both well-watered and drought conditions; RA was more effective than LA in the recovery of leaf turgor. Analyses of water relation parameters in different aged leaves showed lower susceptibility of the middle-aged leaves to both K deficiency and drought stresses than the upper and lower leaves; this phenomenon was accompanied by a more conservative control of water loss in the middle-aged leaves. In contrast, proline was accumulated in the young leaves, and K application increased it further. Although various organic osmolytes were accumulated under the combinative effect of K deficiency and drought stress, they did not exceed the amounts found in the control (well-watered +K) plants and were merely a result of the concentration effect. Collectively, our results revealed that the majority of leaf biochemical responses to drought stress are developmentally regulated processes. In addition, the alleviating effect of both RA and LA despite higher water loss indicated that an improved stomatal function upon K application allowed carbohydrates synthesis, thus, enhancing plant growth under water stress.