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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

04/10/15 9:59 pm

- Mrunal - -

[Revision] Agriculture Chemistry: Mineral Nutrition, Plant Growth

Regulators, Ethylene, Hydroponics, Photoperiodism, Vernalisation
Posted ByMrunalOn 09/08/2015 @ 8:00 pm In Science | 60 Comments
1. Prologue
2. Plant growth regulators (PGRs)
1. Auxins
2. Gibberellins (GA)
3. Cytokinins
4. Ethylene
5. Ethephon
6. Abscisic acid (ABA)
7. Essential elements
3. Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
1. Chlorosis vs Necrosis
2. Nitrogen
4. Misc. Terms
3. Biennial Plants
4. Plasticity
5. Hydroponics
5. Possible MCQs

To provide level playing field to Only-IFoS aspirants, UPSC had asked tough technical
questions from environment and agriculture last time. For an ordinary only-CSE aspirant, the
cost:Benefit not that good in pursuing those things.
However, some of the content provided in class 11-12 biology textbooks in connection with
Botany and agriculture, could prove to be useful.
So, this article contains revision note out of Biology Class11: Chapter 12 (essential nutrients)
and 15 (growth regulators).

Plant growth regulators (PGRs)

Growth means an irreversible permanent increase in size of an organ /cell.
water, oxygen and nutrients=> Metabolism (Anabolic/catabolic)=>Growth.
Plant growth regulators are indole compounds and have two subtypes:
1. growth promoters (auxins, gibberellins and cytokinins)
2. growth inhibitor (e.g. Absicis acid)
Ethylene fits in either group, but largely growth inhibitor.

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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

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Auxins (Greek word to grow). Chemically theyre indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).
first isolated from human urine
Auxins used for Parthenocarpy in tomatoes i.e. the development of a fruit without fertilization
or seeds.
Assertion: Auxins used as herbicides. Correct Reason: They can kill dicotyledonous weeds
without harming mature monocotyledonous plants.
Auxins help to initiate rooting in stem cuttings- hence used for plant propagation.
Auxins prevent fruit and leaf from dropping at early stages but promote the abscission of older
mature leaves and fruits.
Auxins promote flowering in pineapples.

Gibberellins (GA)
Gibberellins (1) increase length of grapes stalks (2) They elongate and improve shape of Apples.
They delay senescence, so fruits can be left on the tree longer so as to extend the market period.
In brewing industry, GA 3 is used to fasten the malting process
Sugarcane stores carbohydrate as sugar in their stems. GA spray will increase stems length &
thereby yield to 20 tonnes per acre.
GA spray will hasten maturity of juvenile conifers and lead to early seed production.
In beet, cabbages GA promotes bolting (internode elongation just prior to flowering).
All GAs are acidic in Nature.

Theyre produced in in regions where rapid cell division occurs- e.g. root apices, developing
shoot buds, young fruits etc.
They produce new leaves, chloroplasts in leaves and growth of shoot.
They promote nutrient mobilisation to delay leaf senescence
Cytokinins help overcome the apical dominance.
Apical dominance: In most higher plants, the growing apical bud inhibits the growth of the
lateral (axillary) buds. Therefore, in plantations, hedge-making- shoot tips are remoted
(decapitation) to make lateral buds grow.

Ethylene is a simple gaseous Plant growth regulators (PGRs)
It is synthesized in tissues undergoing senescence and ripening fruits
In leaves and flowers, Ethylene promotes following
Senescence: process of growing older and showing the effects of increasing age
Abscission: Shedding of flowers, leaves and fruit.
respiratory climactic: Ethylene enhances the respiration rate during ripening of the fruits.
Thus helps in fruit ripening.

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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

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Ethylene breaks seed and bud dormancy, peanut seeds germination, potato tubers sprouting,
Ethylene promotes elongation in deep water rice plants so leaves can remain above water.
Ethylene also promotes root hair growth to increase absorption surface
Ethylene is used to synchronise fruit-set in pineapples and flowering in mango
Since ethylene regulates so many physiological processes, it is one of the most widely used
PGR in agriculture

Ethephon is most widely used source of Ethylene. It is an aqueous solution is readily absorbed
and transported within the plant and releases ethylene slowly.
Ethephon hastens fruit ripening in tomatoes and apples and accelerates abscission in flowers and
fruits (thinning of cotton, cherry, walnut). It promotes female flowers in cucumbers thereby
increasing the yield.

Abscisic acid (ABA)

It acts as a general plant growth inhibitor, metabolism inhibitor, seed germination inhibitor.
ABA induces dormancy, helps seeds to withstand desiccation.
Assertion: Abscisic acid is also known as stress hormone. Correct Reason: It increases the
tolerance of plants to various kinds of stresses.

Essential elements
weathering and breakdown of rocks=> essential minerals => root=> xylem tissue=> plant
Thus, Most of the essential minerals are derived from the rock minerals. Therefore, plant
nutrition is called mineral nutrition.
60+ elements found in different plants- including gold, selenium and even radioactive strontium
(if plant growing in nuke site)
So, the question is- how can we know if given element is essential for plant or not?
Well, Essential elements have 3 characteristics:
If theyre absent, plant will not complete its lifecycle.
Theyre not replaceable by other elements.
Theyre directly involved in plant-metabolism.
Total 17 Essential elements further divided into two groups:
Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
Present in plant tissues in large amounts (>10 mmole Kg 1 of
Less amount / trace elements.
dry matter).
From soil: nitrogen, phosphorous (ATP), sulphur,
potassium (stomata opening-closing), calcium and

iron, manganese, copper,

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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

magnesium (Chlorophyll)
From air: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen

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molybdenum, zinc, boron,

chlorine and nickel

Among above, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are

components of biomolecules hence called structural
If nitrogen, potassium and magnesium deficiency, then itll be
first visible in the senescent leaves.

Chlorosis vs Necrosis
Leaves turn yellow due to loss of Chlorophyll.
Death of leaf tissue
deficiency of elements N, K, Mg, S, Fe, Mn, Zn and Mo deficiency of Ca, Mg, Cu, K.


Plants need this element in the greatest amount, because of

Its role in meristematic tissues and the metabolically active cells.
Nitrogen is one of the major constituents of proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins and

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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

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Artificial: Industrial combustions, forest fires, automobile exhausts and power-generating
Natural: Decomposition of organic material => Ammonification => Nitrogen fixing bacteria
Nitrosomonas and/or Nitrococcus => Nitrite=>oxidation by Nitrobacter.
nitrogen-fixing microbes could be free-living or symbiotic.
Azotobacter is a free-living nitrogen-fixing aerobic microbes.
Assertion: nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for both natural and agricultural eco-systems. CorrectReason: Plants compete with microbes for the limited nitrogen in the soil.

Misc. Terms

Plant-flowering depends on combination of light exposure and its duration. This is known as
Day-neutral plants: They have no correlation between exposure to light duration and flowering

Vernalisation: When flowering is dependent on exposure to low temperature. Example- Wheat,
barley and rye- they have two varieties:
Planted in

normally planted in the spring and come to flower and produce grain before the end of
the growing season.
If winter variety of planted in spring, theyll fail to flower / theyll fail to produce
mature grain within flowering season.

Biennial Plants
Examples: Sugerbeet, cabbages, carrots.
They normally flower and die in the second season.
They are monocarpic plants i.e. Dying after bearing fruit only once.

It means Plants follow different pathways in response to environment to form different kinds of
structures. This ability is called e.g., heterophylly in cotton, coriander and larkspur.
In such plants, juvenile plants leaves are different in shape than mature plants.

German Botanist Julius von Sachs showed plants could be grown without soil, in a nutrient

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Mrunal Revision: Agriculture Chemistry-Plant Growth Regulators

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solution. This technique is called hydroponics.

Hydroponics is used in commercial cultivation of tomato, seedless cucumber and lettuce.

Possible MCQs
1. Which of the following statements are correct about (1) plant growth regulators (2)
photoperiodism (3) vernalisation (4) Biennial plants (4) Hydropphonics (5) essential elements
characteristics (6) Nitrogen cycle
2. Which of the macronutrients are available from soil / air?
3. Which of the following are examples of micronutrients?
4. How does Gibberellins spray increases the yield in sugar cane?
5. Which of the following effects on flower/fruits are caused by ethylene?
6. Why is Abscisic acid called a stress hormone?
7. Which of the following are examples of biennial plants?
8. What is Parthenocarpy? Why is Auxin used in it?
9. Difference between Plasticity and apical dominance?
10. Match the following: plant growth regulator vs. impacts, essential element versus its importance
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