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  Section: Plant Nutrition » Micronutrients » Boron
 
 
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Content
Historical Information
  Determination of Essentiality
  Functions in Plants
    - Root Elongation and Nucleic Acid Metabolism
    - Protein, Amino Acid, and Nitrate Metabolism
    - Sugar and Starch Metabolism
    - Auxin and Phenol Metabolism
    - Flower Formation and Seed Production
    - Membrane Function
Forms and Sources of Boron in Soils
  Total Boron
  Available Boron
  Fractionation of Soil Boron
  Soil Solution Boron
  Tourmaline
  Hydrated Boron Minerals
Diagnosis of Boron Status in Plants
  Deficiency Symptoms
    - Field and Horticultural Crops
    - Other Crops
  Toxicity Symptoms
    - Field and Horticultural Crops
    - Other Crops
Boron Concentration in Crops
  Plant Part and Growth Stage
  Boron Requirement of Some Crops
Boron Levels in Plants
Soil Testing for Boron
  Sampling of Soils for Analysis
  Extraction of Available Boron
    - Hot-Water-Extractable Boron
    - Boron from Saturated Soil Extracts
    - Other Soil Chemical Extractants
  Determination of Extracted Boron
    - Colorimetric Methods
    - Spectrometric Methods
Factors Affecting Plant Accumulation of Boron
  Soil Factors
    - Soil Acidity, Calcium, and Magnesium
    - Macronutrients, Sulfur, and Zinc
    - Soil Texture
    - Soil Organic Matter
    - Soil Adsorption
    - Soil Salinity
  Other Factors
    - Plant Genotypes
    - Environmental Factors
    - Method of Cultivation and Cropping
    - Irrigation Water
Fertilizers for Boron
  Types of Fertilizers
  Methods and Rates of Application
References
 
Plant Genotypes
Data on the effect of plant genotypes on boron uptake are meager. Susceptibility to boron deficiency is controlled by a single recessive gene (222), as shown by the tomato cultivars T 3238 (B-inefficient) and Rutgers (B-efficient). Studies (222,223) have shown that T 3238 lacks the ability to transport boron to the top of the plants and confirms the differential response of T 3238 and Rutgers to a given supply of boron. Gorsline et al. (106) observed that corn hybrids exhibited genetic variability related to boron uptake and leaf concentration. One study conducted by E.G. Beauchamp, L.W. Kannenberg, and R.B. Hunter at the University of Guelph, Ontario (personal communication), indicated that the corn inbred CG 10, compared with several others, was the least efficient in boron accumulation as measured by the boron content of leaves sampled at the anthesis stage. These researchers, in a study of 11 hybrids, also found that decreased boron accumulation was associated with higher stover yield.


Some wheat cultivars in Asia, were tolerant of boron deficiency, whereas several sensitive genotypes failed to set grain in the absence of boron (224). Experiments conducted in China showed that roots of some wheat varieties secreted more organic acids, resulting in low pH and increased availability of boron, zinc, and phosphorus (225).



Environmental Factors
One of the chief environmental factors affecting the response of plants to the availability of nutrients is the intensity of light. The faster the plant grows, for example, under high light conditions, the faster it will develop boron deficiency symptoms in a particular growth period. Observations by Broyer (226) indicated that deficiencies as well as toxicities are revealed earliest or most intensely in the summer. Experiments conducted with duckweed (Lemna paucicostata Hegelm.) showed that reducing light intensity decreased the response to boron deficiency or toxicity (227). In the absence of boron, severe deficiencies were observed in cultures under continuous illumination from a daylight fluorescent lamp at 5500 lux, but not at 1000 lux. Over the range of 0.5 to 2.5 mg B L-1 in the culture solution, plant boron accumulation was reduced with decreasing light intensity. Studies conducted on young tomato plants grown in solution culture showed that in the absence of boron deficiency, symptoms developed more rapidly at high than at low light intensity (228). Plants supplied with boron did not exhibit symptoms.

An interaction appears to occur between temperature and lighting conditions. Rawson et al. (229) reported that low light alone reduced floret fertility in wheat by around 8%; however, in combination with a marginal boron supply, low light amplified the boron deficiency effect by some 60%. Furthermore, reduced light had the most deleterious effect at high temperature. Field studies in Bangladesh (230) demonstrated that some of the factors responsible for sterility in wheat are low temperatures over many days during flowering, and saturated or waterlogged soil. These factors affect transpiration, which in turn affects boron transport in the plant during the critical preflowering or flowering period.

Soil water appears to affect the availability of boron more than that of some other elements. Studies by Kluge (231) indicated that boron deficiency in plants during drought may be only partially associated with the level of hot-water-soluble boron in soil. Reduced soil solution in connection with reduced mass flow and reduced diffusion rate, as well as limited transpiration flow in the plants during drought periods, may be causative factors of boron deficiency in spite of an adequate supply of available boron in the soil. Boron deficiencies are generally found in dry soils where summer or winter drought is severe; when adequate moisture is maintained throughout the summer, deficiency symptoms may not be common (232). In an experiment on barley, soil water had a significant effect on plant boron accumulation after boron was applied to the soil (195). The boron concentration of barley, with added boron, ranged from 162 to 312 mg kg-1 under normal conditions, but only from 87 to 135 mg kg-1 when the area near the boron fertilizer band was kept dry. Mortvedt and Osborn (233) likewise reported that movement of boron from the fertilizer granules increased with concentration gradient and soil moisture content.



Boron concentration of some plants has been found to be a direct function of air temperature over the 8 to 37°C range. For example, Forno et al. (234) found that Cassava (Manihot esculentum Crantz) roots grew well when the solution temperature was maintained at 28 or 33°C, but developed severe boron deficiency symptoms at 18°C. Mild symptoms of boron deficiency were also obtained at a solution temperature of 23°C.


Relative humidity also affects boron accumulation, for example, an increase in percent relative humidity from 30 to 95 resulted in a decrease from 16.5 to 9.9 mg B per plant (235). Boron deficiency symptoms observed in birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) were caused by a temporary deficiency of available boron, induced by local drought conditions (236).


Generally, soils that have developed in humid regions have low amounts of plant-available boron because of leaching. Further, plant-available boron that is present in such soils is located in the top 15 cm and in the organic matter fraction (237,238). Thus, plants growing in regosols, sandy podzols, alluvial soils, organic soils, and low humic gleys tend to develop boron deficiencies because of low soil boron reserves.



At low temperatures in spring and fall in temperate regions, availability of boron is low, as evident in crops such as alfalfa and red clover. It has been suggested that during the cool season, plants may have an increased demand for B at a time when microbial activity in the soil is depressed (David Pilbeam, Personal communication, University of Leeds, England). The lower rate of root growth during the cool season may cause the rhizosphere to become depleted of boron, and falling temperatures may make cell membranes less fluid.


Sterility has become one of the most important wheat production constraints in Nepal (239). Among environmental factors, cold temperatures during the reproductive stages at higher altitudes coupled with low availability of boron are major factors causing sterility in wheat (239). Pot experiments conducted on spring wheat also showed that cold temperatures significantly reduced the response of plants to boron, and if a cold-susceptible cultivar was cold-stressed, it accumulated less boron (240).


Method of Cultivation and Cropping
The method of ploughing has been shown to affect plant boron accumulation. For example, Lal et al. (241) reported that boron concentration in corn leaf tissue was significantly higher with mouldboard plough and ridge till than with no-till and beds. Cropping systems influence the availability of boron in soil. In a continuous cropping study in China, available boron in soil was higher after three crops of soybeans than after three crops of wheat (242).


Irrigation Water
Gupta et al. (243) reported that only a few irrigation waters have enough boron to injure plants directly. The continued use of irrigation and concentration of boron in the soil due to evapotranspiration are the reasons for the eventual toxicity problems. In arid and semiarid regions, boron concentrations of irrigation waters, especially underground waters, are often elevated and in some cases may be as high as 5 mg L-1 (244). The majority of surface waters have boron concentrations of 0.1 to 0.3 mg L-1, but well waters are more variable in boron content and often have excessive amounts (215). Some river waters used for irrigation may show high levels of boron at certain times of the year due to the contribution of spring drainage areas high in boron. Generally, ground waters emanating from light-textured soils are higher in boron than those from heavy-textured soils (245).



Boron movement in plants has been associated with transpiration. Therefore, any component of the environment that changes transpiration flux can affect boron availability. It has been proposed that decreased boron availability leading to sterility in wheat is due to water deficit as well as waterlogging in the root zone (246).
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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