Patterns of nitrate reductase activity vary according to the plant functional group in a Mediterranean maquis
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- Dias, T., Neto, D., Martins-Loução, M.A. et al. Plant Soil (2011) 347: 363. doi:10.1007/s11104-011-0856-1
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Since little is known about how the Mediterranean Basin ecosystems are affected by nitrogen deposition, we aimed to understand the use of nitrogen by distinct plant functional groups (PFG: summer semi-deciduous and evergreen sclerophylls) present in the Mediterranean maquis in order to assess which may be more affected by changes in nitrogen availability. The availability of soil inorganic nitrogen, leaf nitrate concentrations and nitrate reductase activity (in vivo and in vitro) were measured during the year in three plant species from each PFG. The patterns of in vitro NRA along the shoot and through the day were also determined. Although summer semi deciduous species occupied soil patches richer in nitrate, their leaf NRA were significantly lower than that of evergreen sclerophylls species. The pattern of nitrate and ammonium availabilities along the year also distinguished the PFG. Results show that each PFG is composed of a number of physiologically similar species. Patterns of NRA varied according to the PFG, which may represent distinct specializations of co-occurring species to access nitrogen. Therefore, the NRA can be used as an indicator of the nitrate availability taking into consideration the time of the year, the plant species and its PFG.