, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 333–344 | Cite as

Autumnal nitrogen nutrition affects the C and N storage and architecture of young peach trees

  • Marie-Odile JordanEmail author
  • Gilles Vercambre
  • Jacques Le Bot
  • Stéphane Adamowicz
  • Laurent Gomez
  • Loïc Pagès
Original Paper


Nitrogen fertilisation is a regular practice in orchards. Its effect on tree development, N and C acquisition and allocation were evaluated simultaneously, while coupling on the same trees in situ measurements of N uptake and shoot development and destructive determinations of organ composition in N and Total Non structural Carbohydrates (TNC). An hydroponic set-up was designed that could grow young peach trees at constant NO3 concentration while measuring N uptake. Forty-eight trees were raised outdoors under excessive N supply. Between October 2 and December 7, half of them were then N-limited to reduce N uptake by 75%. Organ N concentrations remained stable in the controls but were halved in N-limited trees. Growth (390 vs. 353 g DW tree−1) was less affected by the treatment than N uptake (10.6 vs. 2.7 g N tree−1). Growth was affected only in terms of axillary bud development, which was restricted to the median and upper crown parts. The number of buds which transformed into elongating axes (44 vs. 84 tree−1) was halved, thus reducing leaf area by one-third (10,464 vs. 15,568 cm2). Tree TNC content was not impacted. The difference in C acquisition likely balanced the C costs of N uptake. In N-limited trees, more TNC was stored as starch (73 vs. 56%), and the allocation patterns of TNC and N were altered in favour of the roots. Our results provide deeper insights into the tree integrated response to autumnal N fertilisation, focusing on an alteration of the balance between storage and growth.


Nitrogen fertilisation N uptake Plant architecture N allocation Non-structural carbohydrate 





Leaf maximal CO2 exchange rate


Dry weight




Total non-structural carbohydrate



This work was funded by the “PACA 2006-13514 grant: “Relation entre disponibilité en azote de réserve et croissance précoce des pousses feuillées et des fruits chez le pêcher” from the région ‘Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. We would like to thank J. Fabre, J. Hostaléry, V. Serra and C. Vigne for setting up and maintaining the hydroponic orchard and helping with architectural measurements, and D. Bancel and E. Rubio for chemical analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Odile Jordan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gilles Vercambre
    • 1
  • Jacques Le Bot
    • 1
  • Stéphane Adamowicz
    • 1
  • Laurent Gomez
    • 1
  • Loïc Pagès
    • 1
  1. 1.INRA, UR1115 Plantes et systèmes de culture horticolesAvignonFrance
  2. 2.INRA, Plantes et systèmes de culture horticoles, Domaine Saint-Paul, AgroparcAvignon Cedex 9France

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