Phosphorus Use Efficiency of Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) and Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) Studied in Nutrient Solution
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Safflower represents an important oil crop internationally and may have a production potential under low input conditions, but its putatively high phosphorous use efficiency is not sustained. This study aims to directly compare safflower with sunflower in terms of phosphorus use efficiency in nutrient solution under controlled conditions. Growth of both species responded strongly to increasing P supply. Safflower recovers less proportion of added P than sunflower. External P requirement ((g P supply (100 g dry matter (DM) produced)-1) was higher in safflower than sunflower. The efficiency of the crops for DM production based on accumulated P (mg P pot-1, efficiency ratio), and P concentration in DM ((mg P (g DM)-1), utilization index) were interpreted using Michaelis-Menten kinetics as growth response curves. Accordingly, Km constant was lower in sunflower compared to safflower in terms of utilization index, but both were similar in terms of efficiency ratio. High Km constant in safflower in terms of utilization index indicates the high P concentration in tissues to produce 50% of potential maximum DM, consequently less efficient crop. Utilization efficiency contributed more than uptake efficiency in overall PUE in the efficient cultivar and could be the cause of its superiority in PUE. It can be concluded that safflower has a high requirement for P with respect to growth, sunflower is more efficient in terms of uptake and utilization of P at optimal and sub-optimal P supplies indicating that safflower can not be considered a low nutrient input crop compared to sunflower with respect to phosphorus.