Plant and Soil

, Volume 118, Issue 1–2, pp 171–179 | Cite as

Effects of substrate nitrate concentration on symbiotic nodule formation in actinorhizal plants

  • Steven J. Kohls
  • Dwight D. Baker


The response ofAlnus glutinosa, Casuarina cunninghamiana, Elaeagnus angustifolia andMyrica cerifera to a range of substrate nitrogen levels in solution, in relation to plant growth, infection, nodulation and root fine structure was studied. Nine concentrations of potassium nitrate ranging from 0.05 to 3.0 mM, were tested on each of the species. Plants were inoculated withFrankia pure cultures after a two week exposure to one of the nine levels of added nitrate. After six more weeks with constant exposure to nitrate, plants were harvested and assayed. With the exception of Myrica, regression analyses of whole plant dry weights as a function of added nitrate were highly significant. There was a tendency for nodulated plants grown at intermediate levels of added nitrate to exhibit higher relative growth rates, probably due to the additive effect of substrate nitrogen and fixation of atmospheric nitrogen. The mean numbers of nodules per plant were, with the exception of Alnus, significantly higher at intermediate levels of added nitrate, as were mean nodule dry weights. A highly significant inverse relationship between nodule weight as a percentage of whole plant weight was found in Elaeagnus and Myrica. The observed response of Elaeagnus to added nitrate compared to other actinorhizal plants appears to demonstrate that root hair infected plants are much more sensitive to the inhibitory effects of added nitrate than plants infected by intercellular penetration. A sharp reduction in the presence of root hairs at high concentrations of nitrate was observed. This indicates that the inhibition of nodulation in some actinorhizal plant species results from nitrate induced root hair suppression.

Key words

Alnus glutinosa Casuarina cunninghamiana Elaeagnus angustifolia infection process Myrica cerifera nitrate inhibition nodule development root hair 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Kohls
    • 1
  • Dwight D. Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.Program for Forest MicrobiologyYale University, School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA

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