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Potassium translocation combined with specific root uptake is responsible for the high potassium efficiency in vegetable soybean

Liu, Changkai, Tu, Bingjie, Wang, Xue, Jin, Jian, Li, Yansheng, Zhang, Qiuying, Liu, Xiaobing, Ma, Baoluo
Crop & pasture science 2019 v.70 no.6 pp. 516-525
Glycine max, crops, genotype, hydroponics, leaves, potassium, potassium sulfate, root systems, soybeans, surface area, tissues, vegetables
Uptake of potassium (K) in crops depends mainly on the root system. Field, pot and hydroponic experiments were carried out to characterise root morphological traits and examine their roles in K uptake and utilisation of vegetable soybean (edamame) (Glycine max (L.) Merr.). Of 40 genotypes, two high K-efficiency (HKE) and two low K-efficiency (LKE) genotypes were identified and compared at two levels of K application: nil or 120 kg K₂SO₄ ha–¹. HKE genotypes had shorter total root length and smaller root surface area and root volume than LKE genotypes, but responded earlier to low-K conditions by adjusting root architecture. In plants receiving nil K, total root length was increased by 10.4–21.8% for HKE genotypes but decreased by 5.5–9.5% for LKE genotypes at the V4 stage relative to plants receiving applied K. HKE genotypes were more efficient in redistributing K from source to sink tissue, especially from leaf. Of the total K in vegetative tissues, 35.0–46.4% was redistributed to seed in HKE genotypes, whereas only 19.7–28.2% was redistributed in LKE genotypes. HKE genotypes also had a higher specific K uptake rate (K uptake per unit root length), 1.6–1.7 times higher than LKE genotypes at the R5 stage. This indirectly indicated a stronger root K acquisition in HKE genotypes. This study suggests that future vegetable soybean improvement with greater K efficiency should be focused on the selection of higher K-redistribution rate and specific K-uptake rate.