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Scientia Agricola

On-line version ISSN 1678-992X


MACHADO, Cynthia Torres de Toledo  and  FURLANI, Ângela Maria Cangiani. Root phosphatase activity, plant growth and phosphorus accumulation of maize genotypes. Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.) [online]. 2004, vol.61, n.2, pp.216-223. ISSN 1678-992X.

The activity of the enzyme phosphatase (P-ase) is a physiological characteristic related to plant efficiency in relation to P acquisition and utilization, and is genetically variable. As part of a study on maize genotype characterization in relation to phosphorus (P) uptake and utilization efficiency, two experiments were set up to measure phosphatase (P-ase) activity in intact roots of six local and improved maize varieties and two sub-populations. Plants were grown at one P level in nutrient solution (4 mg L-1) and the P-ase activity assay was run using 17-day-old plants for varieties and 24-day-old plants for subpopulations. Shoot and root dry matter yields and P concentrations and contents in plant parts were determined, as well as P-efficiency indexes. Root P-ase activity differed among varieties, and highest enzimatic activities were observed in two local varieties -'Catetão' and 'Caiano' -and three improved varieties -'Sol da Manhã', 'Nitrodente' and 'BR 106'. 'Carioca', a local variety, had the lowest activity. Between subpopulations, 'ND2', with low yielding and poorly P-efficient plants, presented higher root P-ase activity as compared to 'ND10', high yielding and highly P-efficient plants. In general, subpopulations presented lower P-ase activities as compared to varieties. Positive and/or negative correlations were obtained between P-ase activity and P-efficiency characteristics, specific for the genotypes, not allowing inference on a general and clear association between root-secreted phosphatase and dry matter production or P acquisition. Genotypic variability must be known and considered before using P-ase activity as an indicator of P nutritional status, or P tolerance, adaptation and efficiency under low P conditions.

Keywords : Zea mays L.; genetic variability; enzymatic activity; nutritional efficiency.

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