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Nitrate content and nitrate reductase activity in Rumex obtusifolius L.

II. Responses to nitrate starvation and nitrogen fertilization

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The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of nitrogen starvation and subsequent fentilization with nitrate or ammonium on nitrate content and nitrate reductase activity of Rumex obtusifolius L. under natural conditions.

When plants were transplanted to nitrate-poor media, endogenous nitrate was reduced within a few days. In parallel, nitrage reductase activities dropped to about 25% of the initial values. As a consequence of nitrate fertilization (1; 10 or 100 mmol KNO3/l substrate), endogenous nitrate content of the plant abruptly increased within one day. In extreme cases, nitrate concentrations of up to 10% of plant dry weight could be observed without being lethal. High external nitrate concentrations caused an inhibition of nitrate reductase within the leaves, while low external concentrations provoked an increase in the enzyme activity of about 450% within one day. Ammonium fertilization (5 mmol (NH4)2SO4/l substrate) also caused an increase in nitrate reductase activity and nitrate content within leaf blades. This observation indicates a rapid nitrification of ammonium in the substrate. When plants were fertilized with ammonium plus nitrate (2.5 mmol (NH4)2SO4+ 5 mmol KNO3/l substrate), an extremely high and long term increase in nitrate reduction could be observed. Due to an intensive enzymatic nitrate turnover, the nitrate content of leaf blades then remained relatively low. Our observations do not point to an inhibition of nitrate reductase activity in leaves of Rumex obtusifolius by ammonium. Despite temporarily high endogenous nitrate concentrations, Rumex obtusifolius may not be termed as a “nitrate storage” plant, since the accumulation of nitrate is a short term process only.

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Correspondence to A. Melzer.

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Melzer, A., Gebauer, G. & Rehder, H. Nitrate content and nitrate reductase activity in Rumex obtusifolius L.. Oecologia 63, 380–385 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00390669

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  • Nitrate
  • Nitrate Concentration
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • Leaf Blade
  • Nitrate Reduction