Soil & Environ.

29(1): -- - --, 2010
www.se.org.pk

Online ISSN: 2075-1141 Print ISSN: 2074-9546

Short Communication Foliar applied 2, 4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid improved tomato growth and yield
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W. Anwar1, T. Aziz1*, F. Naveed2 and S.T. Sahi1 Sub-campus University of Agriculture, Faisalabad at Depalpur, Okara 2 University College of Agriculture, B.Z. University, Multan

Abstract
Auxins are important growth hormones, involved in cell division, growth and differentiation in plants. This experiment was conducted to ascertain the impact of synthetic auxin “2, 4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid” (2, 4-D) on vegetative growth and yield related traits of two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240) differing in growth pattern). Seeds of both varieties were sown in plastic trays containing a mixture of leaf manure and fine textured soil and were transplanted in soil after 8 weeks. There were four treatments viz 0, 5, 10 and 15 mg L-1 of 2, 4-D applied as foliar spray after one month after transplanting and second spray was applied after two months of transplantation. Both varieties showed significant differences in growth and yield in all treatments. Tomato variety PO-240 produced more flowers and fruit weight than Rio Grand. Application of 2, 4-D significantly improved growth attributes and fruit yield of both varieties compared to control treatment. The increase in growth and yield of tomato varieties was maximum when 5 mg L-1 of 2, 4-D was applied as foliar spray, but decreased beyond this concentration. It is suggested that 2,4-D should be sprayed to tomato crop at lower concentration to improve fruit yield.

Keywords: Auxin, 2, 4-D, tomato, growth hormones
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is an important vegetable crop, which is widely grown all over the world, including Pakistan. It is a very profitable crop particularly when grown off-season in tunnels. Tomato consumption in the country is increasing day by day which direly needs an increase in per unit yield of tomato. Its yield can be increased and sustained by agronomic, nutritional management or by some exogenous supplementation with enzymes or growth hormones. Plant growth is a combination of cell division, elongation and differentiation and is influenced both by environment stimuli and endogenous developmental progress. Adaptive changes in plants in response of both factors are coordinated by phytohormones (Campanoni and Nick, 2005; Teale et al., 2006). Several important growth and development processes in plants are controlled and influenced by plant growth regulators (PGR) such as auxins (Hobbie, 1998; Zahir et al., 1998; Berleth and Sachs, 2001; Cline, 1996; Asghar et al., 2003). Auxin is involved in cell division and cell elongation, tropisms, cell differentiation (Yamagami et al., 2004; Campanoni and Nick, 2005; Teale et al., 2006), apical dominance and branching (Cline, 1996; Klee and Romano, 1994). Application of PGR to tomato plants have marked effect on *Email: tasuaf@hotmail.com
© 2010, Soil Science Society of Pakistan (http://www.sss-pakistan.org)

inflorescence, leaf to flowers ratio, number of flowers and fruit set. Among auxins, 2, 4-D and 1-Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) are synthetic compounds and can improve plant growth in similar fashion to natural auxin. Campanoni and Nick (2005) reported that 2, 4-D efficiently triggers cell division in plants while NAA triggers cell elongation. In tissue culture studies, both of these synthetic auxins played an important role in cell growth (division and elongation). Growth regulators control and regulate the growth and development of tomato along with the induction of uniformity in ripening and thus improve the quality of tomato fruit (Singh and Choudhary, 1966). Fruit set in tomato can be induced by treatment with growth regulators to improve the yield substantially (Sawhney, 1984). Exogenous application of 2, 4-D to tomato plants can substantially influence the changes in decarboxylase during parthenocarpic fruit growth in tomato resulting in increased fruit set and yield. Application of 2, 4D also decreased low temperature induced malformation of tomato thus improved quality and yield (Asahira et al., 1982). Little is documented on the best dose of these synthetic compounds in Pakistan. The present experiment was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of 2,4-D on growth and yield of tomato crop and to evaluate the best dose of 2,4-D for tomato growth and yield. Two varieties of tomato Rio Grand (determinate type)

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Anwar, Aziz, Naveed and Sahi

and PO-240 (Indeterminate type) varieties (coded as V1 and V2, respectively) were selected for the study. Determinate variety had a bushy type and indeterminate variety has a vine type of growth habit. Seeds of these varieties were sown in plastic trays containing a mixture of leaf manure and fine textured soil. Plastic trays were kept under a small plastic tunnel to protect the seedlings from low temperature. After 8 weeks of emergence, seedlings were transplanted in the experimental area. Experimental field was prepared by deep ploughing and planking. Seed beds were prepared at the distance of 0.60 m. The experiment was laid out in randomized complete block design with three replications. Each experimental unit had dimension of 2.43 m × 3.04 m. Seedlings were transplanted 0.30 m apart within a line with bed-to-bed distance of 0.60 m. Seedlings were transplanted on both sides of the bed. Each experimental unit had both tomato varieties. Nonexperimental area was kept both around the field and each experimental unit. NPK fertilizers were applied @ 100 kg N, 150 kg P205 and 60 kg K2O per hectare in the soil. Phosphorus and potash fertilizers were applied before the time of transplanting. Nitrogen was applied in split doses; half dose before transplanting and other half 6-8 weeks after transplanting. First irrigation was given just after transplanting, taking care to avoid over flooding, while subsequent irrigations were applied at 10 to 12 day intervals keeping in view the water needs of the crop and field conditions.

plants and branches and number of fruit set from start of blooming to termination of blooming. Tomato fruits, harvested separately from each experimental unit, were weighed on the electrical weighing balance. Volume of randomly selected fruits was measured by immersing the fruit in known amount of water and taking the volume increase in cm3. Field was flooded two days before uprooting the plants. Fresh weight of tomato plants was taken after uprooting five randomly selected plants from each experimental field. Roots were washed gently with tap water, and weighed. Dry weights were recorded after oven drying the samples in forced air driven oven. Data were analyzed by performing ANOVA and Duncan’s Multiple Range test was used to separate the effects of treatment means (Steel and Torrie, 1984).

Plant Height
Auxins are reported to promote growth at low concentration by enhancing the better utilization of photosynthetic process. It was observed that highly significant differences appeared among plant heights on exposure to different concentrations of 2,4-D within and between the two tomato varieties (Table 1). Plants of PO-240 were significantly taller than Rio Grand (Table 1). Foliar application of 2,4-D improved plant height by 1.5 folds in both varieties; however, maximum plant height was observed with 5 mg L-1 2,4-D concentration used as foliar spray. 2,4-D is involved in cell division and cell elongation of plants (Campanoni and Nick, 2005). As the level of 2,4-D was increased in foliar spray, the increase in plant height was

Table 1. Effect of different levels of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid on plant height (cm), number of branches, number of flowers and number of fruit set on two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240). 2,4-D solution was applied as foliar spray to the treatment plots Treatment (mg 2,4-D L-1) 0 5 10 15 Plant Height (cm) Rio Grand PO-240 47 d 61 b 65 c 86 a 64 c 86 a 56 cd 73 b Number of branches Rio Grand PO-240 9b 13 b 17 a 18 a 10 b 12 b 11 b 16 ab Number of flowers Rio Grand PO-240 42 c 52 b 62 ab 70 a 62 ab 68 a 46 bc 57 b Number of fruit set Rio Grand PO-240 23 ab 27 a 28 a 30 a 21 b 29 a 24 ab 28 a

Note: The values with similar letters are statistically similar at p<0.5

The concentrations of 2,4-D @ 5, 10, and 15 mg L-1 were used in the study and coded as C 1 , C2 and C3, respectively, no 2,4-D was applied as control and was coded as C0. The treatment solutions were prepared by dissolving 2, 4-D in 0.01% NaOH and then required volume was made using distilled water. The treatment solutions was applied as foliar spray after one month of transplantation and second spray was applied after two months of transplantation using hand sprayer. The data about various growth parameters were recorded with standard procedures for plant height, number of branches, number of flowers from randomly selected plants by tagging the

decreased. 2,4-D is speculated to promote the cell wall loosening processes providing a state of extensive flexibility within the cell leading ultimately to increase in plant growth, measured in terms of increased plant height (Prasad and Kumar, 2003). It is worth mentioning that growth promoting effect was significant following exposure to lower concentrations of 2,4-D (i.e. 5-10 mgL-1), however, growth retardation resulted with the application of higher concentrations and these findings are in confirmation to previously reported findings (Preece et al., 1984; Pudir and Yadav, 2001).

Growth response of tomato to foliar applied 2, 4-D

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Number of Branches
Interactive effect of cultivars and levels of 2, 4-D on number of branches was not significant (Table 1). The variety PO-240 produced more number of branches than Rio Grand. Application of 2, 4-D at the rate of 5 mg L-1 increased number of branches in Rio Grand variety only. Number of branches in plants grown with higher levels of 2,4-D was though higher than in plants grown without 2, 4-D application, yet increase was statistically non-significant at higher dose of 2, 4-D. It is that there exist non-significant differences among the data relevant to number of branches in groups of plants on exposure to different concentrations of 2, 4-D within varieties, between varieties and interaction between and concentrations and varieties combinations.

depending upon the variety characters (Joseph and Peter, 1981; Singh and Singh, 1992). The impacts of auxin treatment on above-mentioned parameter are consistent with the previous reports for fruit setting (Kinet, 1977; Serrani et al., 2008), improved fruit number and parthenocarpy (Gemici et al., 2006).

Number of Fruit Drop
Fruit drop after development of flowers (pre mature fruit drop) reduces yield significantly in fruit trees/vegetables. Both 2, 4-D and GA3 decrease the fruit drops in citrus due to delay in citrus rind maturity by altering wax deposition and rate and extents of respiratory gas exchange (Prasad and Kumar, 2003). In the present case, the fruit drop was significantly different for both varieties. The fruit drop was higher in PO-240 than in Rio Grand. Application of 2, 4-D significantly decreased fruit drop in both varieties at 5 mg L-1). Variety Rio Grand showed significantly lesser fruit drop than PO-240 indicating its efficiency in fruit setting. Application of 2,4D at higher doses also decreased fruit drop when compared with plants grown without supplementation of 2,4-D (Control). The observed decrease in fruit drop following exposure to different concentrations of 2,4-D may be repetition of citrus mechanisms in tomato plants. Moreover, 2,4-D may enhance physiological activities in plants leading to better utilization of the soil nutrients in comparison with untreated plants and may provide a basis for one of the plausible explanations of less fruit drops following treatment with auxin to tomato plants.

Number of Flowers
The number of flowers is an important yield parameter which ultimately influence fruit yield. Number of flowers were influenced significantly by 2,4-D application and tomato varieties (Table 1). Similar to other parameters, PO-240 produced higher number of flowers than Rio Grand. Application of 2,4-D significantly increased number of flowers in both varieties at lower concentration (5 mg L-1 and 10 mg L-1). However, at higher concentration the number of flowers was statistically similar to control. The plant growth regulators are capable to change the physiology of the plants (Prasad and Kumar, 2003).

Number of Fruit Set
Highly significant differences regarding number of fruits set among different groups of plants exposed to different concentrations of 2,4-D within the varieties as well as between varieties existed. However, the interactions between concentrations and varieties were non-significant. Number of fruit set was significantly greater in PO-240 at control treatments than Rio Grand and when averaged over all four treatmens (Table 1). Application of 2,4-D significantly increased number of fruit set in both varieties, however, varieties varied in their response to applied 2, 4-D. Cultivar Rio Grand showed maximum fruit set when 2,4-D was applied. At higher dose of 2, 4-D, number of fruit set was non-significantly different from control. The fruit setting in tomato is generally poor under natural conditions and is badly affected by temperature, humidity and soil moisture (Singh, 1995). The growth regulators are unable to compensate for the adverse environmental conditions but these are helpful to improve the fruit setting. Low concentrations of 2,4-D have beneficial effects on the plant response, consequently enhanced fruit setting was evident following foliar spray with low (5 mg L-1) concentration of 2, 4-D. Moreover, response to auxin may be variable

Number and Fruit Weight (g/fruit)
Number of fruits harvested is directly related to the fruit yield. The number of fruits harvested was significantly more in PO-240 (21) than Rio Grand (17) when no 2,4-D was applied. Foliar spray of 2,4-D improved the number of fruits harvested in both cultivars. There were significant (P<0.5) differences in fruit yields among different groups of plants exposed to different concentrations of 2,4-D within the varieties (Table 2). Fruit yield in two cultivars did not differ at all treatments. Application of 2,4-D to tomato plants significantly increased the fruit yield. Maximum increase in fruit yield (1.7 folds) was observed when 2,4-D was applied in lowest concentration in both tomato varieties. The tomato fruit yield was in decreasing order when concentration of 2,4-D was increased in foliar spray compared to lowest concentration (5 mg L-1). The increase in fruit yield was attributed to increase in fruit volume because of application of 2,4-D (data not shown). Auxins are reported to enhance the metabolic rates by influencing gene regulations through transcription and translation activities. Moreover, auxins are known to

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Anwar, Aziz, Naveed and Sahi

improve the capabilities of plants relevant to water economy in such a manner that physiological behavior of plants is modified significantly (Prasad and Kumar, 2003). The tomato plants exhibited improvements relevant to growth, sustainable health and enhancement in flowering & fruit parameters in such a coordinated manners for collective contribution toward the higher weight of fruit. These results are in confirmation with reported findings (Sumiati, 1987; Edison; 1991; Kishan et al., 1998).

Science 29: 24-32. Hobbie, L.J. 1998. Auxin: molecular genetic approaches in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology and Biochemestry 36: 91102. Joseph, C.B. and K.V. Peter. 1981. Effect of 2,4Dichlorophenoxyaceticacid on fruit yield, leaf area and flower characters in tomato. Journal of Horticultural Sciences 55: 41-43. Kinet, J.M. 1977. Effect of defoliation and growth

Table 2. Effect of different levels of 2,4- Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid on number of fruit drop, harvested, and fruit weight (g/fruit) on two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240). 2,4-D solution was applied as foliar spray to the treatment plots Number of fruit drop Number of fruit harvested Fruit weight (g/fruit) Treatment (mg 2,4-D L-1) Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240 0 5.23 a 6.34 a 17 c 21 bc 29.3 c 29.4 c 5 1.19 d 1.46 d 26 ab 28 a 50.6 a 52.3 a 2.20 c 2.59 c 22 b 24 b 41.7 b 43.9 b 10 15 3.99 b 4.65 b 19 bc 23 b 33.6 c 33.9 c
Note: The values with similar letters are statistically similar at p<0.5

Conclusion
In conclusion, 2,4-D improved growth and yield of both tomato varieties at lower concentration and should be used for sustaining tomato production.

References
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