Plant and Soil

, Volume 336, Issue 1–2, pp 143–155 | Cite as

Nitrogen metabolism and seed composition as influenced by foliar boron application in soybean

  • Nacer BellalouiEmail author
  • Krishna N. Reddy
  • Anne M. Gillen
  • Craig A. Abel
Regular Article


The physiological effects of foliar boron application (FB) on nitrogen metabolism and seed composition have not been well established in soybean [(Glycine max(L.)Merr.)]. Therefore, the effect of FB on nitrogen metabolism and seed composition was investigated. Nitrate assimilation was evaluated by measuring nitrate reductase activity (NRA) and nitrogen fixation was evaluated by measuring nitrogenase activity and natural abundance of 15N/14N. NRA were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher in plants that received FB than the control plants. Higher rate of FB (One application of four times of commercial rate) inhibited nitrogen fixation as measured by natural abundance of 15N/14N ratio, but increased NRA. The higher activities of NR and nitrogenase by FB were accompanied with a higher B concentration in leaves. The significant (P < 0.0001) enrichment of 15N/14N, accompanied with a higher rate of FB, suggested a possible mechanism where nitrate assimilation may compensate for the decrease in nitrogen fixation. FB increased seed protein by 13.7% and oleic acid by 30.9% compared to the control plants. This alteration was accompanied by a higher B concentration in leaves and seed. The results suggest that FB affects nitrogen metabolism and alters seed compositions, especially protein and unsaturated fatty acids.


Boron Nitrate reductase Nitrogenase Nitrogen assimilation Nitrogen fixation Seed composition 



We thank Sandra Mosley and Earl Gordon for field and lab technical assistance, and Albert Tidwell for field management. Also, we thank Leslie Price for his technical assistance on nitrogen isotope measurements.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nacer Bellaloui
    • 1
    Email author
  • Krishna N. Reddy
    • 2
  • Anne M. Gillen
    • 1
  • Craig A. Abel
    • 3
  1. 1.Crop Genetics and Production Research UnitUSDA-ARSStonevilleUSA
  2. 2.Southern Weed Science Research UnitUSDA-ARSStonevilleUSA
  3. 3.Southern Insect Management Research UnitUSDA-ARSStonevilleUSA

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