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Keywords:

  • Cytokinins

The root systems of wheat seedlings (Triticum aestivum L. cv. SUN 9E) were pruned to two seminal roots. One of the roots was supplied with a suboptimal level of NO3, the other was deprived of N. Different levels of kinetin were supplied to the NO3-deprived roots. Root respiration and the increment of C and N in the roots were measured to determine the C/N ratio of the phloem sap feeding the NO3-deprived roots. Thus, it was possible to determine retranslocation of N from the shoots to the roots, as affected by the rate of kinetin application. It was calculated that the C/N ratio of phloem sap feeding roots growing without kinetin was ca 61. Kinetin application increased this ratio to ca 75, partly due to decreased translocation of N from the shoots back to the roots. Kinetin application decreased the proportion of N that was retranslocated to the roots after translocation to the shoots. Kinetin increased the rate of NO3 uptake per root and the rate of N incorporation in both roots and shoots by ca 60%, but had no effect on shoot dry matter production. In control plants at most 70% of the N incorporated in the NO3-fed roots could have been imported from the shoots, whilst kinetin application reduced this value to ca 40%. Thus root growth was not fully dependent on a supply of N via the phloem.

It is concluded that cytokinins affect the pattern of N-translocation in wheat plants by increasing incorporation of N in dry matter of the shoot, thus leaving less for export. Cytokinins did not play a major role in the regulation of shoot growth and the shoot to root ratio of the present plants.