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22 March 2019 Interspecific root interactions enhance photosynthesis and biomass of intercropped millet and peanut plants
Xiaojin Zou, Zhanxiang Sun, Ning Yang, Lizhen Zhang, Wentao Sun, Shiwei Niu, Lining Tan, Huiyu Liu, Dario Fornara, Long Li
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Abstract

Intercropping is commonly practiced worldwide because of its benefits to plant productivity and resource-use efficiency. Belowground interactions in these species-diverse agro-ecosystems can greatly contribute to enhancing crop yields; however, our understanding remains quite limited of how plant roots might interact to influence crop biomass, photosynthetic rates, and the regulation of different proteins involved in CO2 fixation and photosynthesis. We address this research gap by using a pot experiment that included three root-barrier treatments with full, partial and no root interactions between foxtail millet (Setaria italica (L.) P.Beauv.) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) across two growing seasons. Biomass of millet and peanut plants in the treatment with full root interaction was 3.4 and 3.0 times higher, respectively, than in the treatment with no root interaction. Net photosynthetic rates also significantly increased by 112–127% and 275–306% in millet and peanut, respectively, with full root interaction compared with no root interaction. Root interactions (without barriers) contributed to the upregulation of key proteins in millet plants (i.e. ribulose 1,5-biphosphate carboxylase; chloroplast β-carbonic anhydrase; phosphoglucomutase, cytoplasmic 2; and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase) and in peanut plants (i.e. ribulose 1,5-biphosphate carboxylase; glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; and phosphoglycerate kinase). Our results provide experimental evidence of a molecular basis that interspecific facilitation driven by positive root interactions can contribute to enhancing plant productivity and photosynthesis.

© CSIRO 2019
Xiaojin Zou, Zhanxiang Sun, Ning Yang, Lizhen Zhang, Wentao Sun, Shiwei Niu, Lining Tan, Huiyu Liu, Dario Fornara, and Long Li "Interspecific root interactions enhance photosynthesis and biomass of intercropped millet and peanut plants," Crop and Pasture Science 70(3), 234-243, (22 March 2019). https://doi.org/10.1071/CP18269
Received: 18 October 2017; Accepted: 20 January 2019; Published: 22 March 2019
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KEYWORDS
cereal
groundnut
legume
plant ecology
proteomics
rubisco
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