, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 67-74

Mineral nutrient imbalances and arginine concentrations in needles of Picea abies (L.) Karst. from two areas with different levels of airborne deposition

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Summary

This study evaluated the utility of free arginine concentrations as a possible alternative to mineral nutrient concentrations as an indicator of mineral nutrient imbalances in Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.]. The concentrations of mineral nutrients and arginine were measured in the needles of spruce trees from two areas in Sweden, one with high (15–30 kg ha–1 year–1) airborne N deposition, and one with lower (1–4 kg ha–1 year–1) deposition. The spruce needles from the area with high deposition in southern Sweden had elevated concentrations of free arginine, especially on peat sites. No increase in concentrations was found in the low deposition area in northern Sweden. The arginine concentrations on different sampling occasions were consistent for each site and for individual trees. Trees on peat sites in the south seemed to suffer from P deficiency in relation to N availability. A tendency for K deficiency in needles from peat sites was also found. Needles from trees on mor plots showed acceptable levels of these nutrient elements. Sites in the northern area showed low N concentrations, but the ratios between the different mineral elements analyzed in this study and N were within ranges normally found. A low P/N ratio correlated to high free arginine concentration. The threshold for elevated arginine concentrations is crossed when P/N ratios drop below 0.07–0.08. A tendency for increased arginine levels when ratios between N and the other mineral elements are low was also found, although it was not as strong as that for the P/N ratio. The results are discussed in relation to mineral nutrient imbalances in spruce stands caused by airborne deposition.