Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 925–931 | Cite as

The effects of phenolic acid on nitrogen metabolism in Populus × euramericana ‘Neva’

  • Hui Li
  • Huicheng Xie
  • Zilong Du
  • Xianshuang Xing
  • Jie Zhao
  • Jing Guo
  • Xia Liu
  • Shuyong Zhang
Original Paper


The declines in soil fertility and productivity in continuously cropped poplar plantations are related to phenolic acid accumulation in the soil. Nitrogen is a vital life element for poplar and whether the accumulation of phenolic acid could influence nitrogen metabolism in poplar and thereby hinder continuous cropping is not clear. In this study, poplar cuttings of Populus × euramericana ‘Neva’ were potted in vermiculite, and phenolic acids at three concentrations (0X, 0.5X and 1.0X) were added according to the actual content (1.0X) in the soil of a second-generation poplar plantation. Each treatment had eight replicates. We measured gas exchange parameters and the activities of key enzymes related to nitrogen metabolism in the leaves. Leaf photosynthetic parameters varied with the concentration of phenolic acids. The net photosynthetic rate (PN) significantly decreased with increasing phenolic acid concentration, and non-stomatal factors might have been the primary limitation for PN. The activities of nitrate reductase (NR), glutamine synthetase (GS) and glutamate synthase (GOGAT), as well as the contents of nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, and total nitrogen in the leaves decreased with increasing phenolic acid concentration. This was significantly and positively related to PN (P < 0.05). The low concentration of phenolic acids mainly affected the transformation process of NO3 to NO2, while the high concentration of phenolic acids affected both processes, where NO3 was transferred to NO2 and NH4+ was transferred to glutamine (Gln). Overall, phenolic acid had significant inhibitory effects on the photosynthetic productivity of Populus × euramericana ‘Neva’. This was probably due to its influence on the activities of nitrogen assimilation enzymes, which reduced the amount of amino acids that were translated into protein and enzymes. Improving the absorption and utilization of nitrogen by plants could help to overcome the problems caused by continuous cropping.


Continuous cropping management Poplar Phenolic acids Photosynthesis Nitrogen metabolism Enzyme activity 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Ecological Restoration of Shandong Province, Forestry CollegeShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianChina
  2. 2.College of Agriculture and Forestry ScienceLinyi UniversityLinyiChina
  3. 3.Hydrographic Office of Shandong ProvinceJinanChina
  4. 4.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation and Ecological Restoration, Collaborative Innovation Center of Sustainable Forestry in Southern China of Jiangsu ProvinceForestry College of Nanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina

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