Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 761–776 | Cite as

Growth and N2 fixation in an Alnus hirsuta (Turcz.) var. sibirica stand in Japan

  • Hiroyuki Tobita
  • Shigeaki F Hasegawa
  • Kenichi Yazaki
  • Masabumi Komatsu
  • Mitsutoshi Kitao


To estimate the N2 fixation ability of the alder (Alnus hirsuta (Turcz.) var. sibirica), we examined the seasonal variation in nitrogenase activity of nodules using the acetylene reduction method in an 18-year-old stand naturally regenerated after disturbance by road construction in Japan. To evaluate the contribution of N2 fixation to the nitrogen (N) economy in this alder stand, we also measured the phenology of the alder, the litterfall, the decomposition rate of the leaf litter, and N accumulation in the soil. The acetylene reduction activity per unit nodule mass (ARA) under field conditions appeared after bud break, peaked the maximum in midsummer after full expansion of the leaves, and disappeared after all leaves had fallen. There was no consistent correlation between ARA and tree size (dbh). The amount of N2 fixed in this alder stand was estimated at 56.4 kg ha−1 year−1 when a theoretical molar ratio of 3 was used to convert the amount of reduced acetylene to the amount of fixed N2. This amount of N2 fixation corresponded to the 66.4% of N in the leaf litter produced in a year. These results suggested that N2 fixation still contributed to the large portion of N economy in this alder stand.


Actinorhizal plants decomposition Frankia litterfall nodule 



We thank Drs Iwatsubo, Takeda, Kawaguchi, Osawa, Tokuchi, Kitayama and the members of the Laboratory of Forest Ecology, Kyoto University, for their valuable suggestions. We are also grateful to Dr Ando, Messrs Kurumado and Saito for their pleasant acceptance and offer of study site and experimental office, and to Dr Nishimura, who gave us helpful suggestions on analysis, and Dr Tian for their help with the field work. This study was financially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 91567, 24580230.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroyuki Tobita
    • 1
    • 3
  • Shigeaki F Hasegawa
    • 2
  • Kenichi Yazaki
    • 1
  • Masabumi Komatsu
    • 1
  • Mitsutoshi Kitao
    • 1
  1. 1.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Low Temperature ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  3. 3.Laboratory of Forest Ecology, Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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