Different Responses in Root Water Uptake of Summer Maize to Planting Density and Nitrogen Fertilization

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Gao, Y., Chen, J., Wang, G., Liu, Z., Sun, W., Zhang, Y. and Zhang, X. 2022. Different Responses in Root Water Uptake of Summer Maize to Planting Density and Nitrogen Fertilization. Frontiers in Plant Science. 13, p. 918043. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.918043

AuthorsGao, Y., Chen, J., Wang, G., Liu, Z., Sun, W., Zhang, Y. and Zhang, X.
Abstract

Modifying farming practices combined with breeding has the potential to improve water and nutrient use efficiency by regulating root growth, but achieving this goal requires phenotyping the roots, including their architecture and ability to take up water and nutrients from different soil layers. This is challenging due to the difficulty of in situ root measurement and opaqueness of the soil. Using stable isotopes and soil coring, we calculated the change in root water uptake of summer maize in response to planting density and nitrogen fertilization in a 2-year field experiment. We periodically measured root-length density, soil moisture content, and stable isotopes delta O-18 and delta D in the plant stem, soil water, and precipitation concurrently and calculated the root water uptake based on the mass balance of the isotopes and the Bayesian inference method coupled with the Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation. The results show that the root water uptake increased asymptotically with root-length density and that nitrogen application affected the locations in soil from which the roots acquired water more significantly than planting density. In particular, we find that reducing nitrogen application promoted root penetration to access subsoil nutrients and consequently enhanced their water uptake from the subsoil, while increasing planting density benefited water uptake of the roots in the topsoil. These findings reveal that it is possible to manipulate plant density and fertilization to improve water and nutrient use efficiency of the summer maize and the results thus have imperative implications for agricultural production.

KeywordsStable isotopes; Summer maize; Bayesian interference method; Planting density; Fertilization
Year of Publication2022
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Journal citation13, p. 918043
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.918043
Web address (URL)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2022.918043/full
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 1 (WP1) - Optimising nutrient flows and pools in the soil-plant-biota system
Publisher's version
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print24 Jun 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted23 May 2022
PublisherFrontiers Media SA
ISSN1664-462X

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