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Plant Physiol. 1992 Jun;99(2):415-21.

Effect of Low Root Medium pH on Net Proton Release, Root Respiration, and Root Growth of Corn (Zea mays L.) and Broad Bean (Vicia faba L.).

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  • 1Institute of Plant Nutrition, Justus Liebig University, Suedanlage 6, D-6300 Giessen, Germany.

Abstract

The effect of low pH on net H(+) release and root growth of corn (Zea mays L.) and broad bean (Vicia faba L.) seedlings was investigated in short-term experiments at constant pH. Broad bean was more sensitive to low pH than corn: the critical values (pH values below which net H(+) release and root growth ceased) were pH 4.00 (broad bean) and pH 3.50 (corn) at 1 millimolar Ca(2+). Both proton release and root growth were progressively inhibited as the medium pH declined. Additional Ca(2+) in the root medium helped to overcome the limitations of low pH for net H(+) release and root growth. Potassium (for corn) and abscisic acid (for broad bean) increased both net H(+) release and root growth rate at the critical pH value. It is concluded that poor root growth at low pH is caused by a lack of net H(+) release that may decrease cytoplasmic pH values. Inhibited net H(+) release at high external H(+) activity is not due to a shortage of energy supply to the H(+) ATPase. Instead, a displacement of Ca(2+) by H(+) at the external side of the plasmalemma may enhance reentry of H(+) into root cells.

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