Influence of Nickel on Crop Growth


Discovery of the Essentiality of Nickel
Physical and Chemical Properties of Nickel and Its Role in Animal and Bacterial Systems
  Nickel-Containing Enzymes and Proteins
  Essentiality and Function of Nickel in Plants
  Influence of Nickel on Crop Growth
Diagnosis of Nickel Status
  Symptoms of Deficiency and Toxicity
Concentration of Nickel in Plants
Uptake and Transport
Nickel in Soils
  Nickel Concentration in Soils
  Nickel Analysis in Soils
Nickel Fertilizers

Many early reports of the role of nickel in agricultural productivity have been questioned since they did not adequately exclude the possibility that nickel was acting directly as a fungicidal element (27). Regardless of the many questionable reports, a compelling body of literature exists in which appropriate concentrations of nickel were applied or where the plant response is consistent with current knowledge of nickel functions including effects on nitrogen fixation, seed germination, and disease suppression (26,27,31,34,38,39).

The clearest agronomic responses to nickel have been observed when nitrogen is supplied as urea or by nitrogen fixation. The most illustrative example of the relationship between nickel and urea metabolism is provided from studies with foliar urea application and tissue-culture growth of plants. Plants without a supply of nickel have low urease activity in the leaves, and foliar application of urea leads to a large accumulation of urea and severe necrosis of the leaf tips (34). Nicoulaud and Bloom (40) observed that nickel, provided in the nutrient solution of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings growing with foliar urea as the only nitrogen source, significantly enhanced growth. The authors speculated that the effect of nickel was more consistent with its role in urea translocation than that on urease activity directly (40). This result is in agreement with the findings of Brown et al. (15), who suggest that nickel has a role in the transport of nitrogen to the seed thereby influencing plant senescence and seed viability.

The first demonstration of an agricultural Ni deficiency did not occur until 2004 (Wood et al., 2004), when it was observed in pecan (Carya illinoinensis). Nickel deficiency in pecan is associated with a physiological disorder 'mouse-ear' which occurs sporadically, but with increasing frequency, throughout the southeastern United States (portions of South Atlantic region) where it represents a substantial economic impact. In agreement with the results of Brown et al. (1), Ni deficiency in pecan results in a disruption of nitrogen metabolism and altered amino acid profiles (72).

The value of addition of nickel to Murashige and Skoog plant tissue-culture medium was shown by Witte et al. (41). These authors suggested that the lack of nickel and urease activity may represent a stress factor in tissue culture and recommended that the addition of 100 nM Ni be adopted as a standard practice. The benefits of adding nickel to solution cultures was also demonstrated by Khan et al. (42), who determined that a mixture of 0.05 mg Ni L-1 and 20% nitrogen as urea resulted in optimal growth of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) under hydroponic conditions.