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Soil diffusive fluxes constitute the bottleneck to tree nitrogen nutrition in a Scots pine forest

Abstract

Background and aims

In nutrient poor environments, plant nitrogen (N) acquisition is governed by soil diffusive fluxes and root uptake capacities. However, the relationship between these two processes is not well understood. We explored a way of comparing the processes, enabling identification of the limiting factor for tree N acquisition.

Methods

The study comprised N-fertilized and N-limited Scots pine stands, and measurements of uptake capacities of detached tree roots and of induced soil diffusive fluxes (through in-situ microdialysis) done at the onset and the end of the growing season.

Results

Soil N fluxes were higher at the onset than at the end of the growing season and amino acids comprised a larger fraction of N than inorganic N. N fertilization reduced root uptake capacities of NH4 +, glycine and NO3 but not of arginine. For all N compounds except NO3 , diffusive fluxes were significantly lower than root N uptake capacities.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that soil N supply in both, N-fertilized and N-limited forest stands, is dominated by amino acids, thus being the major component of plant-available N. Uptake of N appears more constrained by the diffusive fluxes of N compounds rather than root uptake capacity, except for NO3 .

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Margareta Zetherström for the analyses of the amino acids. We also thank Henrik Svennerstam, Hyungwoo Lim, Iftikhar Ahmad, Nils Henriksson, Bright Kumordzi and Pantana Tor-ngern for their contributions during root collection. Professor Dan Binkley is acknowledged for valuable comments on the text.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olusegun Ayodeji Oyewole.

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Funding

This study was financed by grants awarded to T.N. from the Kempe foundations, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (excellence grant, TC4F and Bio4E), The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra Biotech) and The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (T.N., E.I., S.J.).

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Responsible Editor: Ellis Hoffland .

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Supplementary Table 1

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Supplementary Table 2

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Supplementary Table 3

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Supplementary Figure 1

The relationship between excess 13C and excess 15N in Scots pine roots labeled with U-[13C6],[15N4]-arginine at the onset of growing season 2012. The slope of regression obtained from (a) roots from control soil in 50 μM incubation solution is 1.50 (R2 = 1.00) indicating that 100 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (b) roots from fertilized soil in 50 μM incubation solution is 1.48 (R2 = 0.99) indicating that 99 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (c) roots from control soil in 500 μM incubation solution is 1.50 (R2 = 1.00) indicating that 100 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (d) roots from fertilized soil in 500 μM incubation solution is 1.45 (R2 = 0.99) indicating that 97 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (PDF 231 kb)

Supplementary Figure 2

The relationship between excess 13C and excess 15N in Scots pine roots labeled with U-[13C6],[15N4]-arginine at the end of growing season 2012. The slope of regression obtained from (a) roots from control soil in 50 μM incubation solution is 1.48 (R2 = 1.00) indicating that 99 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (b) roots from fertilized soil in 50 μM incubation solution is 1.44 (R2 = 0.99) indicating that 96 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (c) roots from control soil in 500 μM incubation solution is 1.38 (R2 = 1.00) indicating that 92 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (d) roots from fertilized soil in 500 μM incubation solution is 1.50 (R2 = 1.00) indicating that 100 % of arginine was taken up in intact form. (PDF 218 kb)

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Oyewole, O.A., Jämtgård, S., Gruffman, L. et al. Soil diffusive fluxes constitute the bottleneck to tree nitrogen nutrition in a Scots pine forest. Plant Soil 399, 109–120 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2680-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2680-5

Keywords

  • Amino acids
  • Microdialysis
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Plant nutrition
  • Stable isotopes