New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 505–518 | Cite as

Effects of drought and nitrogen addition on photosynthetic characteristics and resource allocation of Abies fabri seedlings in eastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Yan Yang
  • Jianying Guo
  • Genxu WangEmail author
  • Liudong Yang
  • Yang Yang


Abies fabri (Mast.) Craib is an endemic and dominant species in typical sub-alpine dark coniferous forests distributed in mountainous regions of the eastern Tibetan Plateau, China. We investigated the ecophysiological responses of A. fabri seedlings to short-term artificially-applied drought, nitrogen addition alone, and the combination of these treatments. Drought was created by excluding natural precipitation with an automatically controlled plastic roof that covered the seedlings. Nitrogen fertilization was applied weekly by spraying over seedlings with ammonium nitrate solution. Experiment results showed that drought caused a reduction in photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency and leaf mass per area. Nitrogen addition enhanced photosynthetic performance by increasing net photosynthetic rate. In the drought plots, nitrogen addition increased net photosynthetic rate and instantaneous water use efficiency. These results showed that applied nitrogen improved plant water use efficiency and N accumulation in plant organs under drought conditions. Especially under drought conditions more N was concentrated into needles by applied nitrogen as compared with other organs. In conclusion, our results indicated that the combination of nitrogen addition and drought may result in positive effects on A. fabri seedlings in the short-term.


C concentration N concentration Net photosynthetic rate Water use efficiency 



This research was supported by Knowledge Innovative Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-331-2, KZCX2-EW-309-2) and West Light Talents Training Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y0R2100100, Y0R2130130). We thank Quan Lan, Na Li, Yun Lin, and Guangsheng Liu for providing valuable comments and help. We thank acknowledge all workers of the Alpine Ecosystem Observation and Experiment Station.


  1. Alexieva V, Sergiev I, Mapelli S, Karanov E (2001) The effect of drought and ultraviolet radiation growth and stress markers in pea and wheat. Plant Cell Environ 24:1337–1344Google Scholar
  2. Ashraf M, Foolad MR (2007) Role of glycine betaine and proline in improving plant abiotic stress resistance. Environ Exp Bot 59:206–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bacelar EA, Moutinho-Pereira JM, Goncalves BC, Ferreira HF, Correia CM (2007) Changes in growth, gas exchange, xylem hydraulic properties and water use efficiency of three olive cultivars under contrasting water availability regimes. Environ Exp Bot 60:183–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bobbink R, Hicks K, Galloway J (2010) Global assessment of nitrogen deposition effects on terrestrial plant diversity: a synthesis. Ecol Appl 20:30–59PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen SP, Bai YF, Zhang LX, Han XG (2005) Comparing physiological responses of two dominant grass species to nitrogen addition in Xilin River Basin of China. Environ Exp Bot 53:65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DaMatta FM, Loos RA, Silva EA, Loureiro ME, Ducatti C (2002) Effects of soil water deficit and nitrogen nutrition on water relations and photosynthesis of pot-grown Coffea canephora Pierre. Trees 16:555–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans JR (1989) Photosynthesis and nitrogen relationships in leaves of C3 plants. Oecologia 78:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Field C, Merino J, Mooney HA (1983) Compromises between water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency in five species of California evergreens. Oecologia 60:384–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Geßler A, Jung K, Gasche R, Papen H, Heidenfelder A, Borner E, Metzler B, Augustin S, Hildebrand E, Rennenberg H (2005) Climate and forest management influence nitrogen balance of European beech forests: microbial N transformations and inorganic N transformations and inorganic N net uptake capacity of mycorrhizal roots. Eur J For Res 124:95–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graciano C, Guiamét JJ, Goya JF (2005) Impact of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on drought responses in Eucalyptus grandis seedlings. For Ecol Manag 212:40–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Guo JY, Yang Y, Wang GX, Yang LD, Sun XY (2010) Ecophysiological responses of Abies fabri seedlings to drought stress and nitrogen addition. Physiol Plant 139:335–347PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Li MH, Xiao WF, Shi PL, Wang SG, Zhong YD, Liu XL, Wang XD, Cai XH, Shi ZM (2008) Nitrogen and carbon source-sink relationships in trees at the Himalayan treelines compared with lower elevations. Plant cell Environ 31(10):1377–1387PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lu YW, Duan BL, Zhang XL, Korpelainen H, Berninger F, Li CY (2009) Intraspecific variation in drought response of Populus cathayana grown under ambient and enhanced UV-B radiation. Ann For Sci 66:163Google Scholar
  14. Makino A, Osmond B (1991) Effects of nitrogen nutrition on nitrogen partitioning between chloroplasts and mitochondria in pea and wheat. Plant Physiol 96:355–362PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Martin T, Oswald O, Graham IA (2002) Arabidopsis seedling growth, storage lipid mobilization and photosynthetic gene expression are regulated by carbon: nitrogen availability. Plant Physiol 128:472–481PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mo JM, Li DJ, Gundersen P (2008) Seedling growth response of two tropical tree species to nitrogen deposition in southern China. Eur J For Res 127:275–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Morgan JA (1986) The effects of N nutrition on the water relations and gas exchange characteristics of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Plant Physiol 80:52–58PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nelson DW, Sommers LE (1982) Total carbon, organic carbon and organic matter. In: Page AL, Miller RH, Keeney DR (eds) Methods of soil analysis, Part 2. American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science, Madison, pp 539–579Google Scholar
  19. Nikiema P, Nzokou P, Rothstein D (2011) Effects of groundcover management on soil properties, tree physiology, foliar chemistry and growth in a newly established Fraser fir (Abies fraseri [Pursh] Poir). New For. doi: 10.1007/s11056-011-9274-8 (in press)
  20. Nilsson LO, Wiklund K (1994) Nitrogen uptake in a Norway spruce stand following ammonium sulphate application, fertilization, irrigation, drought and nitrogen-free-fertilization. Plant Soil 164:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Oliet JA, Planelles R, Artero F, Valverde R, Jacobs DF, Segura ML (2011) Field performance of Pinus halepensis planted in Mediterranean arid conditions: relative influence of seedling morphology and mineral nutrition. New For 37(3):313–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Otoo E, Ishii R, Kumura A (1989) Interaction of nitrogen addition and soil water stress on photosynthesis and transpiration in rice. Jpn J Crop Sci 58(3):424–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Patterson TB, Guy RD, Dang QL (1997) Whole-plant nitrogen- and water-relations traits, and their associated trade-offs, in adjacent muskeg and upland boreal spruce species. Oecologia 110:160–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Phoenix GK, Hicks WK, Cinderby S, Kuylenstierna JCI, Stock WD, Dentener FJ, Giller KE, Austin AT, Lefroy RDB, Gimeno BS (2006) Atmospheric nitrogen deposition in world biodiversity hotspots: the need for a greater global perspective in assessing N deposition impacts. Global Change Biol 12:470–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Qaderi MM, Kurepin LV, Reid DM (2006) Growth and physiological responses of canola (Brassica napus) to three components of global climate change: temperature, carbon dioxide and drought. Physiol Plant 128:710–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ramalho JC, Pons TL, Groeneveld HW, Azinheira HG, Nunes MA (2000) Photosynthetic acclimation of high light conditions in mature leaves of Coffea Arabica L.: role of xanthophylls, quenching mechanisms and nitrogen nutrition. Aust J Plant Physiol 27:43–51Google Scholar
  27. Reich PB, Walters MB, Tabone TJ (1989) Response of Ulmus americana seedlings to varying nitrogen and water status. 2. Water- and nitrogen-use efficiency in photosynthesis. Tree Physiol 5:173–184PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Saneoka H, Moghaieb REA, Premachandra GS, Fujita K (2004) Nitrogen nutrition and water stress effects on cell membrane stability and leaf water relations in Agrostis palustris Huds. Environ Exp Bot 52:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sardans J, Peñuuelas J, Estiarte M, Prieto P (2008) Warming and drought alter C and N concentration allocation and accumulation in a Mediterranean shrubland. Global Change Biol 14:2304–2316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sinclair TR, Pinter PJ, Kimball BA, Adamsen FJ, LaMorte RL, Wall GW, Hunsaker DJ, Adam N, Brooks TJ, Garcia RL, Thompson T, Leavitt S, Matthias A (2000) Leaf nitrogen concentration of wheat subjected to elevated [CO2] and either water or N deficits. Agric Ecosyst Environ 79:53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Smolander A, Barnette L, Kitunen V, Lumme I (2005) N and C transformations in long-term N-fertilized forest soils in response to seasonal drought. Appl Soil Ecol 29:225–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Solomon S, Qin DH, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miler HL (eds) (2007) IPCC, Climate change 2007: the physical scientific basis (contribution of Working Group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  33. Wallace ZP, Lovett GM, Hart JE, Machona B (2007) Effects of nitrogen saturation on tree growth and death in a mixed oak forest. For Ecol Manag 243:210–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wu FZ, Bao WK, Li FL, Wu N (2008) Effects of water stress and nitrogen addition on leaf gas exchange and fluorescence parameters of Sophora davidii seedlings. Photosynthetica 46:40–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yang YQ, Yao YA, Xu G, Li CY (2005) Growth and physiological responses to drought and elevated ultraviolet-B in two contrasting populations of Hippophae rhamnoides. Physiol Plant 124:431–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yang Y, Han C, Liu Q, Lin B, Wang JW (2008) Effect of drought and low light on growth and enzymatic antioxidant system of Picea asperata seedlings. Acta Physiol Plant 30:433–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Yang
    • 1
  • Jianying Guo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Genxu Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Liudong Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yang Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentThe Alpine Ecosystem Observation and Experiment Station of the Gongga Mountain, Chinese Academy of SciencesChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate College of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Tourism and Economy ManagementLeshan Teachers CollegeLeshanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations