Physiological roles of nutrients

The absolutely necessary nutrients for plant growth are the following: N, P, K, S, Ca, Mg (macronutrients), Zn, Cu, B, Mn, Fe, Mo (micronutrients). Without one of these nutrients, plant organism can not grow normally and survive. The physiological roles of these nutrients are described in detail below.

1.5. Macronutrients

Nitrogen: It is a primary component of nucleic acids, proteins, amino acids, purines, pyrimidines and chlorophyll. Nitrogen exerts a significant effect on plant growth, as it reduces biennial bearing and increases the percentage of perfect flowers. In olive trees, lack of N leads to decreased growth, shorter length of annual shoots (<10cm), fewer leaves, reduced flowering and decreased yield [31].

Phosphorus: P is a component of high-energy substances such as ATP, ADP and AMP; it is also important for nucleic acids and phospholipids. Phosphorus affects root growth and maturation of plant tissues and participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins [31].

Potassium: K plays a crucial role in carbohydrate metabolism, in the metabolism of N and protein synthesis, in enzyme activities, in the regulation of the opening and closing of stomata, thus to the operation of photosynthesis, in the improvement of fruit quality and disease tolerance, in the activation of the enzymes peptase, catalase, pyruvic kinase e. t.c. [31,38].

Calcium: It is the element that participates in the formation and integrity of cell membranes, in the integrity and semipermeability of the plasmalemma, it increases the activity of many enzymes, it plays a crucial role in cell elongation and division, in the transfer of carbohydrates e. t.c. [31,38].

Magnesium: It is part of chlorophyll molecule, it activates the enzymes of Crebs’ cycle and it also plays a role in oil synthesis [38].

Sulphur: Sulphur plays role in the synthesis of some amino-acids, such as cysteine, cystine, methionine, as well as in proteins synthesis. It also activates some proteolytic enzymes, such as papaine, bromeline e. t.c. Finally, it is part of some vitamins’ molecule and that of gloutathione [31,38].