The effects of potassium deficiency (KD) and all-macronutrient deficiency (MD) on elongation of tap and lateral roots were studied on maritime pine seedlings (Pinus pinaster Ait.) in hydroponic culture.
Tap root elongation was unaffected by either of the two deficiencies. By marked contrast, lateral root elongation was strongly reduced. The analyses of cell turgor pressure and relative elemental growth rate (REGR) profile in the growing zone allowed us to determine the effects of the nutrient stresses on cell-wall properties. For both deficiency treatments, elongation rate, REGR profile (measured only for control and KD) and turgor pressure in the fastest growing cells were unaffected in the tap root, suggesting that KD and MD did not modify cell-wall properties in the growing zone. In lateral roots, KD shortened the growing zone and significantly reduced REGR. However, turgor pressure remained unaffected in this region. The absence of turgor pressure change suggests that KD reduced elongation of lateral roots by tightening cell walls. In mature cells of the two types of roots, turgor and osmotic pressures tended to be reduced by the nutrient deficiencies, indicating that these parameters were better maintained in the growing cells.
Cell turgor and osmotic pressures of control plants were 0.1 MPa lower at 30 mm (mature cells) than at 2–4 mm (expanding cells) from the meristem. Moreover, these parameters were 0.1 MPa lower in expanding cells of lateral roots than in those of tap the root. Turgor and osmotic pressures were not homogeneous throughout the root system and were affected differently by the nutrient deficiencies depending on the location in the root system.