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S element and Sulphate Nutrition

Author : Doctor Liu Date : 8/17/2011 6:56:05 AM
Sulfur is an essential element for growth and physiological functioning of plants. The total sulfur content in the vegetative parts of crops varies between 0.1 and 2% of the dry weight (0.03 to 0.6 mmol S g 1 dry weight). The uptake and assimilation of sulfur and nitrogen by plants are strongly interrelated and dependent upon each other, and at adequate levels of sulfur supply the organic N/S ratio is around 20:1 on a molar basis . In most plant species the major proportion of sulfur (up to 70% of the total S) is present in reduced form in the cysteine and methionine residues of proteins. Additionally, plants contain a large variety of other organic sulfur compounds such as thiols (glutathione; ∼1 to 2% of the total S) and sulfolipids (∼1 to 2% of the total S); some species contain the so-called secondary sulfur compounds such as alliins and glucosinolates. Sulfur compounds are of great significance in plant functioning, but are also of great importance for food quality and the production of phyto-pharmaceuticals .
       In general, plants utilize sulfate (S6 ) taken up by the roots as a sulfur source for growth. Sulfate is actively taken up across the plasma membrane of the root cells, subsequently loaded into the xylem vessels and transported to the shoot by the transpiration stream . In the chloroplasts of the shoot cells, sulfate is reduced to sulfide (S2 ) prior to its assimilation into organic sulfur compounds . Plants are also able to utilize foliarly absorbed sulfur gases; hence chronic atmospheric sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide levels of 0.05 µL L 1 and higher, which occur in polluted areas, contribute substantially to the plant’s sulfur nutrition .
 
 
Symptomatology of Single Plants
 
Visual diagnosis of sulfur deficiency in production fields requires adequate expertise and needs to involve soil or plant analysis . The literature describes symptoms of sulfur deficiency as being less specific and more difficult to identify than other nutrient deficiency symptoms . The symptomatology of sulfur deficiency is very complex and shows some very unique features. In this section, the basic differences in sulfur deficiency symptoms of species in the Gramineae representative of monocotyledonous, and species in the Cruciferae and Chenopodiaceae representative of dicotyledonous crops will be given for individual plants and on a field scale.
 
Symptomatology of Monocots
 
The symptoms in gramineous crops such as cereals and corn are less specific than in cruciferous crops. In early growth stages, plants remain smaller and stunted and show a lighter color than plants without symptoms . The general chlorosis is often accompanied by light green stripes along the veins . Leaves become narrower and shorter than normal .
       There is no morphological deformation to observe, and usually no accumulation of anthocyanins either. Although the symptoms are very unspecific and are easily mistaken for symptoms of nitrogen deficiency, their specific pattern in fields provides good evidence for sulfur deficiency
 
Sulfur Deficiency Symptoms on a Field Scale
 
Some characteristic features in the appearance of fields can provide early evidence of sulfur deficiency. Sulfur deficiency develops first on the light-textured sections of a field. From above, these areas appear in an early oilseed rape crop as irregularly shaped plots with a lighter green color
The appearance of sulfur-deficient oilseed rape fields is more obvious at the beginning of blooming; white flowers of oilseed rape are distinctively smaller and therefore much more of the green undercover of the crop shines through the canopy of the crop. Another very characteristic indicator of a sulfur-deficient site is the so-called second flowering of the oilseed rape crop. Even if a sulfurdeficient crop has finished flowering, it may come back to full bloom if sufficient sulfur is supplied. The typical situation for this action comes when a wet and rainy spring season up until the end of blooming is followed suddenly by warm and dry weather. During the wet period precipitation, water, which has only one-hundredth to one-tenth the sulfur concentrations of the entire soil solution, dilutes or leaches the sulfate from the rooting area of the plants, so that finally plants are under the condition of sulfur starvation. With the beginning of warmer weather, evaporation increases and sulfur-rich subsoil water becomes available to the plants and causes the second flowering of the crop. During maturity, sulfur deficiency in oilseed rape crops is revealed by a sparse, upright-standing crop.