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Nutrient Deficiency in Plants

Presented to:
Prof. Dr. Ali Abdullah Alderfasi.
Presented by:
Zia Amjad
Environmental stress factors

 Types of environmental factors

 Biotic

 Abiotic

Nutrient stresses come under abiotic factor.

Stress reactions resulting from sub-optimal and damaging
Nutrient Stress deviation from the normal physiological
processes as a result of sub-optimal or toxic concentrations
of nutrition.
 Environmental noxae: stress factors which trigger stress
reactions when applied in any concentration, e.g. UV-B,
Ozone, ionizing radiations, heavy metals, aluminum etc.
 Specific and un-specific reactions to stress: un-specific
reactions includes e.g. modification of basic metabolism.
specific reactions include e.g. the production of heat
shock proteins.
currently 15-17 elements are known to be essential for
plant growth, but the role in the physiological metabolism is
not known in detail for all of them.
General effects of available nutrient
 The different ranges can be:
a) Extreme deficiency range
b) severe deficiency range
c) moderate deficiency range
d) luxury range
e) Toxic range
Critical concentration range: it occurs between deficiency
and luxury consumption.
This information is useful for the measurement of the
degree of stress in a plant.
Conditions for nutrient deficiency
a) Amount and concentration of nutrients in the soil.
b) Form of the soil.
c) The contents of the soil solutions.
d) Soil pH.
Nutrient concentration in plants:
these vary with
a) Plant age
b) Plant part
c) Plant species
d) Soil type
Deficiency symptoms

 Symptom: is any perceptible change in known structure,

appearance or function.
These include:
Yellowing (chlorosis)
Death (necrosis)
Reduced growth and yield
Occurs when one realizes that similar symptoms can be
seen by
a) Toxic levels of nutrients
b) Pathogenic organisms
c) Air pollutants
d) Pesticides
Symptoms may vary with plant species or variety.
Important Point to remember for
Stress diagnosis
 Yield or growth rate is usually impaired before other
symptoms of deficiency occur so that some other
indications of at least the potential for a deficiency must
be considered in any diagnosis procedure.
Important Definitions

 An element is a pure chemical that contains

only one type of atom.
 A compound is a molecule that contains one
or more elements.
Essential Elements

 The 16 elements required by plants are obtained

from the soil, water and air.
 Thirteen of these elements must be supplied by the
 Six of the soil elements required by plants are
needed in relatively large amounts and are usually
added to the soil through fertilizer or lime. These
are called macronutrients.
 The remaining 7 elements supplied by soil are
required in very small amounts and are termed
Element Symbol Source
 Macronutrients are
needed in Oxygen O Air/Water
relatively large Hydrogen H Air/Water
amounts by plants. Carbon C Air/Water
Nitrogen N Soil
Phosphorus P Soil
Sulfur S Soil
Potassium K Soil
Calcium Ca Soil
Magnesium Mg Soil
Macronutrients – Form Used By Plants
Nutrient Form Used
Carbon CO2
Charge on the
Oxygen H2O molecule
Hydrogen H2O
Nitrogen NO3-, NH4+
Phosphorus H2PO4 & HPO42-
Potassium K+
Calcium Ca2+
Magnesium Mg2+
Sulfur SO4-
 Macronutrients are Element Symbol Source
needed in
Iron Fe Soil
relatively small
amounts by plants. Manganese Mn Soil
 They are usually Boron B Soil
supplied by Molybdenum Mo Soil
fertilizers. Copper Cu Soil
Zinc Zn Soil
Chlorine Cl Soil
Micronutrients – Form Used By Plants
Nutrient Form Used
Iron Fe2+
Charge on the
Manganese Mn2+ molecule
Boron H2B03-
Molybdenum MoO42-
Copper Cu2+
Zinc Zn2+
Chlorine Cl-
Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms

 Nutrient deficiency symptoms usually appear on the

plant when one or more nutrients are in short supply.
 In many cases, deficiency may occur because an added
nutrient is not in the form the plant can use.
 Deficiency symptoms for specific elements are included
on the "Key to Nutrient Disorders".
Nutrient Deficiencies

 Every soil is not susceptible to the same nutrient

 For example, coarse-textured soils low in organic matter
are susceptible to sulfur deficiencies whereas sulfur is
usually in adequate supply in clayey soils or soils high in
organic matter.
Macronutrient Deficiencies & Soils
Element Soil Factor Causing Deficiency

N&K Excessive leaching on coarse-textured low organic matter soils

P Acid low organic matter soils

Cold wet soils such as occurs during early spring

Newly cleared soils

S Excessive leaching on coarse-textured low organic matter soils

in areas where air pollution is low (minimal levels of SO2 in the
Ca & Mg Excessive leaching on coarse-textured low organic matter soils

Soils where large amounts of K have been applied

Micronutrient Deficiencies & Soils
Element Soil Factor Causing Deficiency

Fe Poorly drained soils, Low organic matter soils, pH>7.0, Soils

high in P
Zn Cold wet soils low in organic matter and highly leached, High
pH soils (pH>7.0), Soils high in P, Exposed subsoils
Cu Peat and muck soils, High pH, sandy soils, Soils heavily
fertilized with N
B Excessive leaching on coarse-textured low organic matter soils,
Soils with pH>7.0
Mn Excessive leaching on coarse-textured low organic matter soils,
Soil with pH>6.5
Mo Soils high in Fe oxides, high adsorption of molybdenum, Soil
cropped for a long time
Deficiency Symptoms - N

 General chlorosis.
 Chlorosis progresses
from light green to yellow.
 Entire plant becomes
yellow under prolonged
 Growth is immediately
restricted and plants soon
become spindly and drop
older leaves.
Deficiency Symptoms - P

 Leaves appear dull, dark

green, blue green, or red-
purple, especially on the
underside, and especially
at the midrib and vein.
 Petioles may also exhibit

purpling. Restriction in
growth may be noticed.
Deficiency Symptoms - K

 Leaf margins tanned,

scorched, or have necrotic
spots (may be small black
spots which later coalesce).
 Margins become brown and
cup downward.
 Growth is restricted and die
back may occur.
 Mild symptoms appear first
on recently matured leaves.
Deficiency Symptoms - Ca

 Growing points usually

damaged or dead (die
 Margins of leaves
developing from the
growing point are first
to turn brown.
Deficiency Symptoms - Mg
 Marginal chlorosis or
chlorotic blotches which
later merge.
 Leaves show yellow
chlorotic interveinal tissue
on some species, reddish
purple progressing to
necrosis on others.
 Younger leaves affected
with continued stress.
 Chlorotic areas may
become necrotic, brittle,
and curl upward.
 Symptoms usually occur
late in the growing season.
Deficiency Symptoms - S

 Leaves uniformly light green, followed by

yellowing and poor spindly growth.
 Uniform chlorosis does not occur
phics/sulfur2.jpg ogy/ndsucpr/Years/2007/june/7/soils.jpg
Deficiency Symptoms - Cu

 Leaves wilt, become

chlorotic, then necrotic.
 Wilting and necrosis
are not dominant
Deficiency Symptoms - Fe

 Distinct yellow or white

areas appear between
veins, and veins
eventually become
 Symptoms are rare on
mature leaves.

Deficiency Symptoms - Mn

 Chlorosis is less
marked near veins.
 Some mottling occurs
in interveinal areas.
 Chlorotic areas
eventually become
brown, transparent, or
 Symptoms may appear

later on older leaves.

Deficiency Symptoms - Zn
 Leaves may be abnormally small and necrotic.
 Internodes are shortened.
Deficiency Symptoms - B

 Young, expanding
leaves may be necrotic
or distorted followed by
death of growing
 Internodes may be
short, especially at
shoot terminals.
 Stems may be rough,
cracked, or split along

the vascular bundles.

Crops Highly Susceptible to Deficiencies

Element Crops
Mn Soybean, Small Grain & Peanuts
Cu Wheat & Corn
Zn Corn
Mo Soybeans & Cauliflower
B Alfalfa, Apples, Peanuts, Tobacco & Tomatoes
Fe Ornamentals, Fruit Trees, Soybeans, Grain
Sorghum & Some Grasses