• Steven J. Britz

    1. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Plant Photobiology Laboratory, Bldg. 046-A, Beltsville Agricultural Research Centert, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
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  • *Dedicated to Dr Win Briggs on the occasion of his 60th birthday.


Abstract— The partitioning of plant growth between shoot and root has the potential to affect diverse physiological processes including water and nutrient uptake, nitrogen fixation, light interception, and interactions between plant and soil microorganisms. Root: shoot ratio is determined both by genetics and developmental status as well as by availability of water, nutrients and light. It is shown here that relative root growth was modulated by photomorphogenetic treatments designed to affect phytochrome (supplemental far-red radiation given either as an end-of-day treatment or continuously during the photoperiod) or blue light photoreceptors (blue light-deficient low pressure sodium lamps ± low irradiances of supplemental blue [i.e. 5% of total photon flux: 25 μ.mol m−2 s−1]). Photomorphogenetic control of root: shoot ratio was apparent within1–2 days when light treatments were initiated at emergence, and did not necessarily involve changes in net seedling growth. On the other hand, shortened daylength inhibited early seedling growth but had little effect on partitioning. Changes in relative root dry matter induced by supplemental far red radiation or blue light deficiency were similar to those caused by low irradiances, suggesting that phytochrome or blue light photoreceptors may be involved in regulating the partitioning of growth between shoot and root as a part of adaptation to vegetation shade. The influence of spectral quality on root: shoot ratio should be considered when comparing plants grown under different types of lighting or with different spacing.