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Critical Ratio of Calcium and Boron in Maize Shoot for Optimum Growth
Shamsa Kanwal a; Rahmatullah a; Tariq Aziz a; Muhammad Aamer Maqsood a; Najam Abbas a
a
Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

Online Publication Date: 01 September 2008

To cite this Article Kanwal, Shamsa, Rahmatullah, Aziz, Tariq, Maqsood, Muhammad Aamer and Abbas, Najam(2008)'Critical Ratio of
Calcium and Boron in Maize Shoot for Optimum Growth',Journal of Plant Nutrition,31:9,1535 — 1542
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01904160802244530
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01904160802244530

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Journal of Plant Nutrition, 31: 1535–1542, 2008
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0190-4167 print / 1532-4087 online
DOI: 10.1080/01904160802244530

Critical Ratio of Calcium and Boron in Maize Shoot


for Optimum Growth

Shamsa Kanwal, Rahmatullah, Tariq Aziz,


Muhammad Aamer Maqsood, and Najam Abbas

Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture,


Faisalabad, Pakistan
Downloaded By: [PERI Pakistan] At: 03:40 6 August 2008

ABSTRACT

Boron (B) deficiency is widely reported in alkaline calcareous soils of the world, in-
cluding Pakistan. High calcium (Ca) content in such soils can affect the availability and
utilization of B by plants. Effect of applied B at different levels of Ca addition on maize
was studied in hydroponics. Four maize cultivars (‘EV-5089’, ‘SWL-2000’, ‘EV-6089’,
and ‘Sultan’) were grown at three levels of Ca (0.25 mM, 1 mM, and 2 mM) and two
levels of B (0 and 25 µM). Application of both the nutrients increased shoot dry mat-
ter production. However, application of Ca antagonized the B concentration in shoot
of four maize cultivars. A curvilinear relationship existed between Ca/B ratio in shoot
and relative shoot dry matter of maize cultivars. Implication of using of Ca/B ratio for
managing commonly occurring B deficiency in calcareous soils is suggested.

Keywords: calcium, boron, maize, Ca/B ratio, calcareous soils

INTRODUCTION

Boron (B) is an essential micronutrient required for normal growth and develop-
ment of higher plants. World-wide B deficiency is one of the major constraints
to crop production (Sillanpae, 1982). Soils of Pakistan are generally alkaline
and calcareous in nature and micronutrient deficiencies especially of zinc (Zn),
iron (Fe), and B are reported in various parts of the country (Rashid and Rayan,
2004). Boron deficiency was reported in 49% of the soil samples collected

Received 30 April 2007; accepted 8 August 2007.


Address correspondence to Dr. Rahmatullah, Institute of Soil & Environmental Sci-
ences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan. E-mail: rahmat428g@
gmail.com

1535
1536 S. Kanwal et al.

from twenty districts of Punjab for an FAO study (Sillanpae, 1982; Rashid
et al., 1997).
Boron availability in soil is affected by several factors including soil tex-
ture, nature of clay minerals, pH, liming, organic matter, interrelationships with
other elements, and environmental conditions like moderate to heavy rainfall,
dry weather, and high light intensity (Moraghan and Mascagni, 1991). Pres-
ence of free calcium carbonate (CaCO3 ) in alkaline calcareous soils affects the
availability of B to crop plants. In addition to its effect on soil pH, calcium
carbonate also acts as an important B adsorbent in calcareous soils (Goldberg
and Forster, 1991). Boron adsorption is more on soils having higher calcium
carbonate content (Elrashidi and O’Connor, 1982).
Crop plants differ in their B requirement. In general, dicots have more of
a B requirement (20–70 mg kg−1 ) than monocots (5–10 mg kg−1 ) (Marschner,
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1995). Calcium (Ca) is considered important to affect B availability and its


requirement for plants. The amount of either B or Ca influences the availabil-
ity and requirement of each other for normal plant growth and development
(Teasdale and Richards, 1990). An enhanced B deficiency symptoms in plants
by increased Ca supply have been reported (Gupta, 1979). Similarly, B de-
ficiency altered Ca translocation to the shoot and fruit (Ramon et al., 1990;
Yamauchi et al., 1980). It indicates a balanced supply of Ca and B for normal
growth and development of plants. The Ca/B ratio in leaf tissue can be used to
asses the B deficiency, sufficiency and toxicity in plants.
Genotypic variation in crops has also been reported with respect to B
and Ca uptake (Huo-yan et al., 2003). Their differential requirement and use
can influence interactive effect of Ca and B on plant growth. Therefore, B
requirement of crop plants should be determined in relation to Ca availability.
Therefore, the present study was conducted to determine the critical Ca/B ratio
in plants for optimum maize growth at various levels of Ca and B supply in root
medium.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Seeds of four maize cultivars viz. ‘EV-5089’, ‘SWL-2000’, ‘EV-6089’, and


‘Sultan’ were germinated in polyethylene lined iron trays containing pre-
washed river bed sand. Sand in the trays was moistened with distilled water
for germination. Two-week-old uniform seedlings were transplanted in foam-
plugged holes in a thermopal sheet floating in 200 L of Johnson’s modified solu-
tion (Johnson et al., 1957) in four polyethylene lined iron tubs. Three levels of Ca
(0.25 mM, 1.0 mM, and 2.0 mM) and two levels of B (0 and 25 µM) were devel-
oped using calcium chloride and borax, respectively. Potassium nitrate (KNO3 ),
ammonium sulfate [(NH4 )2 SO4 ], magnesium sulfate (MgSO4 7H2 O), man-
ganese sulfate (MnSO4 ), zinc sulfate (ZnSO4 ), molybdic acid (H2 MoO4 ), and
Fe-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) were used to add 8 mM nitrogen
Calcium Boron Ratio for Optimum Growth 1537

(N), 3 mM potassium (K), 5 mM magnesium (Mg), 4 mM sulfur (S), 2 µM


manganese (Mn), 2 µM Zn, 0.5 µM molybdenum (Mo), and 50 µM Fe in
solution form to various tubs. The experiment was laid out in a completely
randomized design (CRD) with nine replications of each genotype. The pH
of the solution was monitored daily and maintained at 5.7 ± 0.3 during the
entire growth period. Average temperature in the green house was 30 ± 5◦ C
at different times of day and 22 ± 3◦ C during the night for the experimental
period. Relative humidity dropped to 35% at mid day and increased to 85% at
mid night. Light intensity varied between 300 and 1400 µmol photon m−2 S−1
depending upon the day and cloud conditions. The plants were harvested thirty
days after transplanting, washed with distilled water and separated into root
and shoot. Dry weights of shoot were recorded after oven drying them to their
constant weight at 70◦ C in a forced air oven. The samples were then ground
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to 40 mesh with a Wiley mill fitted with stainless steel blades and chamber.
The ground samples of shoot were dry ashed at 600◦ C for 12 hours. After dry
ashing, samples were digested in sulfuric acid (H2 SO4 ), filtered, and analyzed
for B concentration by UV-Visible spectrophotometer (Shimadzu, UV-1201,
Shimadzu, Columbia, MD) at 420 nm wavelength. Calcium concentration in
plant digest was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometer (Perkin
Elmer Aanalyst 100, Perkin Elmer, Waltham, MA).
The data regarding shoot dry matter, B uptake and Ca uptake were statisti-
cally analyzed using PC based MSTAT-C (Russel and Eisensmith, 1983). Two
factors, ANOVA and LSD, were used to separate treatment means.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Shoot Dry Matter

There was a highly significant (P < 0.01) main and interactive effect of addition
of Ca and B and cultivars on shoot dry matter production by the four maize
cultivars. Shoot dry matter of the four maize cultivars ranged from 0.68 to
3.25 g plant−1 (Table 1). There was a significant constant increase in shoot dry
matter production of the four maize cultivars by adding Ca and B to the root
medium. There was no general trend for increasing shoot dry matter yield in
the four maize cultivars at the two levels of B application along with low (0.25
mM Ca), medium (1 mM Ca), and high levels (2 mM Ca) of Ca. However,
a significant interaction (P < 0.01) among Ca, B, and maize cultivars had
a profound effect on relative shoot dry matter production. For example, B
application significantly (P < 0.01) increased shoot dry matter production 62
to 159% of the maize cultivars at various levels of Ca addition used in this study.
Similarly, application of higher level of Ca at different levels of B significantly
increased shoot dry matter production 27 to 111% as compared to its lowest
level of 0.25 mM Ca application.
1538 S. Kanwal et al.

Table 1
Shoot dry matter of maize cultivars (mean of 9 replications)

Shoot dry matter (g plant−1 )

+Ca at 0.25 mM +Ca at 1.0 mM +Ca at 2.0 mM


+B at 25 +B at 25 +B at 25
Maize cultivars –B µM –B µM –B µM

EV-5089 0.72 1.55 0.96 2.38 1.40 2.78


SWL-2000 0.68 1.33 0.90 2.17 1.34 2.72
EV-6089 0.83 1.64 1.44 2.56 1.64 2.66
Sultan 0.71 1.84 1.16 2.34 1.50 3.25
LSD (0.01) 0.29
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Ca × B × Cultivar

Unfortunately, no certain trend of shoot dry matter production was evident


in the four maize cultivars grown at the two levels of B applied along with three
levels of Ca in the root medium.

Calcium and Boron Uptake in Shoot

There was a significant (P < 0.01) main and interactive effect of Ca, B, and
cultivar on concentration and uptake of Ca in maize shoot (Tables 2 and 3).
Addition of Ca to the growth medium significantly (P < 0.01) increased the
Ca concentration in shoot. The calcium concentration ranged from 1.91 to 3.78
mg g−1 of shoot dry matter in four maize cultivars. Boron application had a

Table 2
Concentration of calcium in shoot of four maize cultivars (mean of 9 replications)

Shoot calcium concentration (mg g−1 )

+Ca at 0.25 mM +Ca at 1.0 mM +Ca at 2.0 mM

+B at 25 +B at 25 +B at 25
Maize cultivars –B µM –B µM –B µM

EV-5089 1.91 2.67 2.42 2.72 3.46 3.64


SWL-2000 2.32 2.34 2.97 3.24 3.62 3.78
EV-6089 2.06 2.31 3.04 3.72 3.62 3.72
Sultan 2.40 2.57 2.67 3.12 3.11 3.65
LSD (0.01) 0.11
Ca × B × Cultivar
Calcium Boron Ratio for Optimum Growth 1539

Table 3
Total uptake of calcium in shoot of four maize cultivars (mean of 9 repeats)

Calcium uptake by shoot (mg plant−1 )

+Ca at 0.25 mM +Ca at 1.0 mM +Ca at 2.0 mM


+B at 25 +B at 25 +B at 25
Maize cultivars –B µM –B µM –B µM

EV-5089 1.38 4.14 2.32 6.47 4.84 10.12


SWL-2000 1.58 3.11 2.67 7.03 4.85 10.28
EV-6089 1.71 3.79 4.38 9.52 5.94 9.90
Sultan 1.70 4.73 3.10 7.30 4.67 11.86
LSD (0.01) 0.61
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Ca × B × Cultivar

synergistic effect on concentration and uptake of Ca in maize shoot of the four


cultivars. It significantly (P < 0.01) increased the concentration by 0.86 to 40%
and uptake of Ca by more than twofold in maize shoot. Such an increase in Ca
content of plants by B application had also been reported by Yamagishi and
Yamamoto (1994).
There was also significant (P < 0.01) main and interactive effect of
Ca, B and cultivars on concentration and uptake of B in shoot of the four
maize cultivars (Tables 4 and 5). Application of B significantly (P < 0.01) in-
creased concentration and uptake of B at various levels of Ca addition to root
medium. Calcium application had a significant (P < 0.01) antagonistic effect

Table 4
Concentration of boron in shoot of four maize cultivars (mean of 9 repeats)

Boron concentration in shoot (mg g−1 )

+Ca at 0.25 mM +Ca at 1.0 mM +Ca at 2.0 mM


+B at 25 +B at 25 +B at 25
Maize cultivars –B µM –B µM –B µM

EV-5089 0.02 0.74 0.02 0.34 0.02 0.08


SWL-2000 0.016 0.71 0.009 0.42 0.017 0.13
EV-6089 0.02 0.65 0.009 0.26 0.006 0.053
Sultan 0.009 0.57 0.012 0.33 0.009 0.098
LSD (0.01) 0.10
Ca × B × Cultivar
1540 S. Kanwal et al.

Table 5
Total uptake of boron in shoot of four maize cultivars (mean of 9 repeats)

Boron uptake by shoot (mg plant−1 )

+Ca at 0.25 mM +Ca at 1.0 mM +Ca at 2.0 mM


+B at 25 +B at 25 +B at 25
Maize cultivars –B µM –B µM –B µM

EV-5089 0.014 1.147 0.809 0.297 0.028 0.222


SWL-2000 0.011 0.944 0.911 0.222 0.023 0.354
EV-6089 0.017 1.066 0.666 0.256 0.010 0.141
Sultan 0.006 1.049 0.772 0.265 0.014 0.319
LSD (0.01) 0.03
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Ca × B × Cultivar

on concentration and uptake of B in maize shoot. Application of Ca at the


lowest level of 0.25 mM allowed maximum concentration of B in shoot while
the reverse was true at the highest level of 2 mM Ca in the growth medium.
Carpena et al. (2000) have also reported a similar result for B concentration in
shoot. Increased B requirement of crops by increasing Ca in the root medium
have also been discussed by Tisdale et al. (1985).
Shoot growth in four maize cultivars had a poor correlation with B con-
centration while correlation was significant (r = 0.722, P < 0.03 n = 24) with
Ca concentration in plant shoot. Therefore, a curvilinear relationship between
Ca/B ratio in shoot and relative shoot dry matter is depicted in Figure 1. The
results suggest Ca/B ratio of 30 in shoot for obtaining 95% of the maximum
relative shoot dry matter production.

Figure 1. Relation between relative shoot dry matter production and Ca:B ratio in
shoots.
Calcium Boron Ratio for Optimum Growth 1541

Further work is warranted on utilizing Ca/B relationship for correcting B


deficiency found in crops commonly grown on calcareous soils (Rashid et al.,
1997).

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