Nitrate reductase activity and nitrogen compounds in xylem exudate of Juglans nigra seedlings: relation to nitrogen source and supply
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- Nicodemus, M.A., Salifu, K.F. & Jacobs, D.F. Trees (2008) 22: 685. doi:10.1007/s00468-008-0226-7
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Nitrogen (N) limits plant productivity and its uptake and assimilation may be regulated by N source, N availability, and nitrate reductase activity (NRA). Knowledge of how these factors interact to affect N uptake and assimilation processes in woody angiosperms is limited. We fertilized 1-year-old, half-sib black walnut (Juglans nigra L.) seedlings with ammonium (NH4+) [as (NH4)2SO4], nitrate (NO3−) (as NaNO3), or a mixed N source (NH4NO3) at 0, 800, or 1,600 mg N plant−1 season−1. Two months following final fertilization, growth, in vivo NRA, plant N status, and xylem exudate N composition were assessed. Specific leaf NRA was higher in NO3−-fed and NH4NO3-fed plants compared to observed responses in NH4+-fed seedlings. Regardless of N source, N addition increased the proportion of amino acids (AA) in xylem exudate, inferring greater NRA in roots, which suggests higher energy cost to plants. Root total NRA was 37% higher in NO3−-fed than in NH4+-fed plants. Exogenous NO3− was assimilated in roots or stored, so no difference was observed in NO3− levels transported in xylem. Black walnut seedling growth and physiology were generally favored by the mixed N source over NO3− or NH4+ alone, suggesting NH4NO3 is required to maximize productivity in black walnut. Our findings indicate that black walnut seedling responses to N source and level contrast markedly with results noted for woody gymnosperms or herbaceous angiosperms.