Effectiveness of a micronutrient delivery system fertilizer in jatropha plants is related to enhanced photosynthesis, gas exchange and biomass allocation
This study aimed at comparing the growth and physiological changes in Jatropha curcas L. (jatropha or physic nut) young plants fertilized or not with a commercial product based on a micronutrient delivery system (MDS), under different doses of NPK. Measurements of growth, chlorophyll content, and leaf gas exchange were performed in the greenhouse, where plants were arranged in a split-split plot design. Plants were grown for 120 days in 3.9 L pots containing local soil, with or without MDS (main plot), combined with NPK doses (0; 1.8; 4.7 and 7.4 g L-1) in subplots. Dose-response curves showed that most variables were positively responsive to NPK doses in plants growing without MDS, whereas slight responses or even opposite behavior was observed in MDS-fertilized plants. MDS application under low NPK doses resulted in higher biomass allocation in leaves and roots, increases in number of leaves and chlorophyll content, plant height, stem diameter, shoot and root dry weight, stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, leaf transpiration, and water use efficiency, as well as decreases in intercellular CO2 in the leaf and vapor-pressure deficit. The enhanced biomass allocation, photosynthesis and gas exchange in MDS-supplemented plants indicates the relevant role played by this fertilizer in jatropha metabolism, resulting in more vigorous plants.