Enhancing root-zone (RZ) dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) levels of plants grown hydroponically and aeroponically can increase biomass accumulation but may also alter plant nutrient uptake.
New experiments investigated how bicarbonate (HCO3−) added to a hydroponic nutrient solution and CO2 gas added to an aeroponic system affected biomass and nutrient concentrations of lettuce and pepper plants.
Applying high RZ HCO3− concentrations (20 mM) to lettuce plants grown hydroponically decreased foliar N, P, Cu, K, Mn and Zn concentrations, concurrent with decreased biomass accumulation (50% less than control plants). On the contrary, 1 mM RZ HCO3− promoted biomass accumulation (10% more than control plants), but this could not be attributed to higher tissue nutrient concentrations.
While elevated RZ CO2 did not alter biomass accumulation and nutrient concentrations in pepper grown aeroponically, it decreased foliar Mg and S concentrations in lettuce grown aeroponically even though nutrient contents (concentration x biomass) did not differ between treatments, due to 22% more biomass than control plants.
In addition, elevated RZ CO2 enhanced N, P, Cu and Zn contents relative to control plants, indicating greater uptake of those elements. Nevertheless, there was no consistent relationship between plant growth promotion and altered plant nutrition, suggesting alternative mechanisms of growth regulation.