Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 416–431

Root Development and Absorption of Ammonium and Nitrate from the Rhizosphere


    • Department of Vegetable CropsUniversity of California, Davis
  • Paul A. Meyerhoff
    • Department of Vegetable CropsUniversity of California, Davis
  • Alison R. Taylor
    • Department of Vegetable CropsUniversity of California, Davis
  • Thomas L. Rost
    • Section of Plant BiologyUniversity of California, Davis
Thematic Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00344-003-0009-8

Cite this article as:
Bloom, A.J., Meyerhoff, P.A., Taylor, A.R. et al. J Plant Growth Regul (2002) 21: 416. doi:10.1007/s00344-003-0009-8


Plant roots operate in an environment that is extremely heterogeneous, both spatially and temporally. Nonetheless, under conditions of limited diffusion and against intense competition from soil microorganisms, plant roots locate and acquire vital nitrogen resources. Several factors influence the mechanisms by which roots respond to ammonium and nitrate. Nitrogen that is required for cell division and expansion derives primarily from the apex itself absorbing rhizosphere ammonium and nitrate. Root density and extension are greater in nutrient solutions containing ammonium than in those containing nitrate as the sole nitrogen source. Root nitrogen acquisition alters rhizosphere pH and redox potential, which in turn regulate root cell proliferation and mechanical properties. The net result is that roots proliferate in soil zones rich in nitrogen. Moreover, plants develop thinner and longer roots when ammonium is the primary nitrogen source, an appropriate strategy for a relatively immobile nitrogen form.


ammoniumnitrateroots growthdevelopmentrhizospherepH redox potential

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© Springer-Verlag 2003