Plant and Soil

, Volume 407, Issue 1–2, pp 91–107 | Cite as

Direct acquisition of organic N by white clover even in the presence of inorganic N

  • Weronika Czaban
  • Sandra Jämtgård
  • Torgny Näsholm
  • Jim Rasmussen
  • Mogens Nicolaisen
  • Inge S. Fomsgaard
Regular Article



This study was conducted to answer the question of whether clover can absorb asparagine in the presence and absence of inorganic nitrogen, as well as to determine the resulting concentration of post-uptake compounds closely involved in asparagine metabolism.


Clover was grown at two asparagine concentrations (10 μM and 1 mM) supplied in both the absence and presence of ammonium nitrate. Using dual-labeled 13C15N-asparagine, the uptake rate was analyzed via bulk 15N and 13C excess and the detection of intact 13C15N-asparagine in white clover.


The results from the two methods indicated greater utilization of 13C15N-asparagine in the 10 μM treatment than in the 1 mM treatment. The 13C15N-asparagine uptake rate was higher when 13C15N-asparagine was provided alone than when it was supplemented with inorganic nitrogen. Up to nine times lower uptake rates were obtained when intact 13C15N-asparagine was measured than when bulk 15N and 13C excess were analyzed. The labeled amino acids that are closely related to 13C15N-asparagine metabolism (aspartic acid, glutamic acid and glutamine) were detected in clover roots and shoots.


Using two different methods, white clover’s potential to absorb intact asparagine, even in the presence of inorganic nitrogen, was confirmed. The dual-methodology approach employed in this study demonstrates how the post-uptake metabolism can affect quantification of amino acid uptake.


Amino acids Inorganic nitrogen Uptake White clover Asparagine metabolism 



This work was funded by Aarhus University in Denmark (project no. 15163). We gratefully acknowledge Annika Johansson and Thomas Moritz at the Swedish Metabolmics Centre for the use of the non-published amino acid analysis method. We also would like to acknowledge Andreas de Neergaard from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark for providing us with the hydroponic setup and assisting us with developing the conditions for plant growth.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was funded by Aarhus University in Denmark (project no. 15,163).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11104_2016_2896_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Online Resource 1 (DOCX 16 kb)
11104_2016_2896_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
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11104_2016_2896_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (16 kb)
Online Resource 3 (XLSX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weronika Czaban
    • 1
  • Sandra Jämtgård
    • 2
  • Torgny Näsholm
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jim Rasmussen
    • 4
  • Mogens Nicolaisen
    • 1
  • Inge S. Fomsgaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agroecology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyAarhus UniversitySlagelseDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Umeå Plant Science Centre, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant PhysiologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  4. 4.Department of Agroecology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyAarhus UniversityTjeleDenmark

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