Plant and Soil

, Volume 422, Issue 1–2, pp 331–347 | Cite as

Nitrate induction and physiological responses of two maize lines differing in nitrogen use efficiency: effects on N availability, microbial diversity and enzyme activity in the rhizosphere

  • Zeno Varanini
  • Stefano Cesco
  • Nicola Tomasi
  • Roberto Pinton
  • Flavia Guzzo
  • Anita Zamboni
  • Brigitte Schloter-Hai
  • Michael Schloter
  • Laura Giagnoni
  • Mariarita Arenella
  • Paolo Nannipieri
  • Giancarlo Renella
Regular Article



The rate of nitrate (NO3 ) uptake and changes in rhizosphere properties were studied growing seedlings of two maize inbred lines differing in nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in rhizoboxes.


Changes in NO3 uptake rates occurred in response to anion addition (induction) in seedlings grown both in hydroponic culture and in soil in rhizoboxes. The characterization of root exudate composition showed a line-specific metabolite profile, which was also affected by NO3 availability. The induction affected respiration, nitrification, ammonification and enzyme activities of the rhizosphere. Furthermore, the composition of rhizosphere bacterial communities of the two maize lines differed suggesting the selective capacity of plants.


Overall, results showed a strong and fast modification of rhizospheric soil properties in response to physiological changes in plants caused by fluctuating NO3 availability.


NO3 induction Rhizosphere Root exudates Bacterial communities 

Supplementary material

11104_2017_3452_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4.6 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 4694 kb)
11104_2017_3452_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (40 kb)
ESM 2 Chromatographic profiles of root exudates collected by roots of seedling not treated with NO3- (control) of Lo5 and T250 lines. (PDF 39 kb)
11104_2017_3452_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)
ESM 3 ID, m/z (-) value (in negative ionization mode) m/z (+) value (in positive ionization mode), retention time (rt), putative identification of signal. (XLSX 14 kb)
11104_2017_3452_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (632 kb)
ESM 4 Row ID, Row m/z (in negative ionization mode), retention time, putative identification, p1 and pq(corr)1 and p-value of t-test of multivariate and t-test analysis performed of each comparisons or samples. (XLSX 631 kb)
11104_2017_3452_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (162 kb)
ESM 5 ID, m/z (-) value (in negative ionization mode), m/z (+) value (in positive ionization mode), retention time (rt), putative identification, ms/ms value and ms3 value for each fragment. I %= percentage of intensity of the signal compared to the higher signal (=100%). (PDF 162 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeno Varanini
    • 1
  • Stefano Cesco
    • 2
  • Nicola Tomasi
    • 3
  • Roberto Pinton
    • 3
  • Flavia Guzzo
    • 1
  • Anita Zamboni
    • 1
  • Brigitte Schloter-Hai
    • 4
  • Michael Schloter
    • 4
  • Laura Giagnoni
    • 5
  • Mariarita Arenella
    • 5
  • Paolo Nannipieri
    • 5
  • Giancarlo Renella
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of Science and TechnologyFree University of BolzanoBolzanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural, Food, Environmental and Animal SciencesUniversity of UdineUdineItaly
  4. 4.Research Unit for Comparative Microbiome AnalysisHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenMunichGermany
  5. 5.Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental SciencesFlorenceItaly

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