Differences in nitrate uptake of species from habitats rich or poor in nitrogen when grown at low nitrate concentrations, using a new growth technique
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A method is described for culturing plants at extremely low nutrient concentrations. Using a Braun infusion pump, a fixed amount of nitrate or ammonium was supplied continuously to plants growing in a culture vessel at a rate limiting the uptake of the plants. At a very low nitrogen concentration an equilibrium was established where uptake rate of the plants is equal to the rate of supply by the infusion pump. The nitrogen concentrations reached appeared to be in the order of 1 μM.
The method compared the nitrate uptake byHypochaeris radicata L.ssp.radicata, H. radicata ssp.ericetorum Van Soest andUrtica dioica L. and ammonium uptake byH. radicata ssp.radicata andH. radicata ssp.ericetorum. Plants were cultivated in monocultures or in mixed cultures (two species per culture vessel). For the mixed cultures competition for nitrate (or ammonium) between the species was maintained for long periods. The capacities of the uptake systems of two subspecies ofH. radicata from places different in nitrogen supply and pH were adapted equally well to both low nitrate and low ammonium concentrations.
Apparently factors other than nitrogen uptake play a part in the distribution of the subspecies. The capacity of the uptake system ofU. dioica, a nitrophilous species, was lower than that ofH. radicata ssp.radicata, a species from places poorer in nitrogen. This difference is related to the different distribution of the two species in the field.
The present results are compared with those of previous experiments where Km and Vmax were measured and the significance of both parameters is discussed.
Key WordsCompetition Ecophysiology Hypochaeris radicata Nitrate Nitrate uptake Urtica dioica
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