Plant and Soil

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 153–166 | Cite as

Amidase and urease activities in plants

  • W. T. FrankenbergerJr.
  • M. A. Tabatabai


Foliar fertilization has received considerable attention in recent years. Because of the importance of amides and urea as N sources, this work was carried out to study the enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of these compounds in plant leaves. The methods developed for assay of these enzymes in plants involve determination by steam distillation of the NH4+−N produced by amidase or urease activity when plant materials are incubated at 37°C with buffered (0.1M THAM pH 8.0) amide solution or buffered (0.1M THAM pH 7.5) urea solution, respectively. Amidase and urease were detected in 21 diverse plants in the families of Gramineae and Leguminosae. Results showed that amidase and urease have optimum activities at buffer pH values of 8.0 and 7.5, respectively. Both amidase and urease activities were decreased significantly upon freezing or air-drying of plant samples before enzyme assay. These differences were proportional to the original activities of fresh plant materials. Studies on the effect of temperature on amidase and urease activities showed that these enzymes are inactivated at temperatures above 60 and 70°C, respectively. The energy of activation of the reaction catalyzed by amidase and urease in plants, expressed in kJ·mole−1, ranged from 44.0 to 51.2 (avg.=47.1) and from 43.1 to 56.5 (avg.=51.2) when formamide and urea were used as substrates, respectively. The apparent Km constants of these enzymes varied among the plant samples studied. By using the Lineweaver-Burk plot, the Km values for amidase when formamide was used as a substrate ranged from 2.0 to 9.4 (avg.=5.8 mM) and for urease ranged from 0.4 to 1.6 (avg.=0.8 mM). The Vmax values of 7 plant samples, expressed in μg of NH4+−N produced/0.1 g of plant materials/2h, ranged from 137 to 514 for amidase and from 29 to 123 for urease. The importance of these enzymes in application of amides and urea to plant leaves is discussed.

Key words

Amides Foliar fertilization Nitrogen fertilizers Plant enzymes Urea 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr. W. Junk Publishers 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. T. FrankenbergerJr.
    • 1
  • M. A. Tabatabai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyIowa State University AmesUSA

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