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Vegetable yield is positively related to the environment and negatively affected by the pot root restriction during both the nursery and post-transplant stages. Root restriction is a physical stress imposed on the root system when plants are grown in small containers, which leads to a pronounced decrease in root and shoot growth at both the transplant and pot stages. Based on the assumption that the plant responses are mainly associated with a negative hormonal signaling from roots, some researchers have proposed that these abiotic stresses may be overridden by using a pre-transplant spray with benzyl amino purine (BAP), a synthetic cytokinin able to regulate plant metabolism. Although the physiological mechanisms induced by BAP have been described, the implementation of commercial applications of BAP for vegetables is still a pending issue. The aim of this work was to analyze growth changes in four lettuce genotypes in the presence of different root restrictions degree by the use of different plug cell volumes but sprayed with a single BAP spray under the hypothesis that it would play a role as abiotic stress alleviators. Our results showed that the higher biomass accumulation in lettuce plants non root-limited and BAP-sprayed ones are supported by higher photosynthetic rates, by higher leaf number initiation and expansion and by photo assimilate partition to shoots. Understanding the plant responses to this hormonal manipulation and the physiological mechanism involved will allow adjusting the agronomic advice for different vegetables and reaching commercial yields to each of them.
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