Role of Molybdenum

Molybdenum is involved in enzyme systems relating to nitrogen fixation by bacteria growing symbiotically with legumes. Nitrogen metabolism, protein synthesis and sulfur metabolism are also affected by molybdenum. Molybdenum has a significant effect on pollen formation, so fruit and grain formation are affected in molybdenum-deficient plants.

Crops and Soils Susceptible to Molybdenum Deficiency

Molybdenum deficiencies are found mainly on acid, sandy soils in humid regions. Molybdenum uptake by plants increases with increased soil pH, which is opposite that of the other micronutrients. Molybdenum deficiencies in legumes may be corrected by liming acid soils rather than by molybdenum applications. However, seed treatment with molybdenum sources may be more economical than liming in some areas.

Symptoms of Deficiency

Because molybdenum requirements are so low, most plant species do not exhibit molybdenum-deficiency symptoms. These deficiency symptoms in legumes are mainly exhibited as nitrogen-deficiency symptoms because of the primary role of molybdenum in nitrogen fixation. Unlike the other micronutrients, molybdenum-deficiency symptoms are not confined mainly to the youngest leaves because molybdenum is mobile in plants. The characteristic molybdenum-deficiency symptom in some vegetable crops is irregular leaf blade formation known as whiptail, but interveinal mottling and marginal chlorosis of older leaves also have been observed.