Author(s): Choong TW, He J, Lee SK, Dodd IC
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Abstract Temperate crops cannot grow well in the tropics without rootzone cooling. As cooling increased production costs, this experiment aimed to study the growth of various Lactuca genotypes and propose possible ways of reducing these costs, without compromising productivity. A recombinant inbred line (RIL) of lettuce and its parental lines (L. serriola and L. sativa "Salinas") were grown aeroponically in a tropical greenhouse under 24°C cool (C) or warm fluctuating 30-36°C ambient (A) rootzone temperature (RZT). Their roots were misted with Netherlands standard nutrient solution for 1 min, at intervals of either 5 min (A5, C5) or 10 min (A10, C10) in attempting to reduce electricity consumption and production costs. Lower mortality and higher productivity were observed in all genotypes when grown in C-RZT. Higher shoot fresh weight was observed under C5 than C10, for the RIL and L. serriola. Since "Salinas" had similar shoot fresh weight at both C-RZ treatments, this may indicate it is more sensitive to RZT than water availability. Under A-RZ treatments, higher carotenoid content, with correspondingly higher nonphotochemical quenching, was observed in A10 for the RIL and "Salinas." Further, total chlorophyll content was also highest at this RZ treatment for the RIL though photochemical quenching was contrastingly the lowest. Cumulatively, productivity was compromised at A10 as the RIL seemed to prioritize photoprotection over efficiency in photosynthesis, under conditions of higher RZT and lower water availability. Generally, higher RZ ethylene concentrations accumulated in A10 and C10 than A5 and C5, respectively-probably due to spray frequency exerting a greater effect on RZ ethylene accumulation than RZT. In the C5 RZ treatment, lowest RZ ethylene concentration corresponded with highest shoot fresh weight. As such, further research on ethylene (in)sensitivity and water use efficiency could be conducted to identify Lactuca cultivars that are better suited for growth in the tropics, so as to allay production costs with reduced cooling and spray intervals.
This article was published in Front Physiol
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