Backgrond and Aims
Stylosanthes spp. (stylo) is one of the most important pasture legumes used in a wide range of agricultural systems on acid soils, where aluminium (Al) toxicity and phosphorus (P) deficiency are two major limiting factors for plant growth. However, physiological mechanisms of stylo adaptation to acid soils are not understood.
Twelve stylo genotypes were surveyed under field conditions, followed by sand and nutrient solution culture experiments to investigate possible physiological mechanisms of stylo adaptation to low-P acid soils.
Stylo genotypes varied substantially in growth and P uptake in low P conditions in the field. Three genotypes contrasting in P efficiency were selected for experiments in nutrient solution and sand culture to examine their Al tolerance and ability to utilize different P sources, including Ca-P, K-P, Al-P, Fe-P and phytate-P. Among the three tested genotypes, the P-efficient genotype ‘TPRC2001-1’ had higher Al tolerance than the P-inefficient genotype ‘Fine-stem’ as indicated by relative tap root length and haematoxylin staining. The three genotypes differed in their ability to utilize different P sources. The P-efficient genotype, ‘TPRC2001-1’, had superior ability to utilize phytate-P.
The findings suggest that possible physiological mechanisms of stylo adaptation to low-P acid soils might involve superior ability of plant roots to tolerate Al toxicity and to utilize organic P and Al-P.