• Betula pendula;
  • bud burst;
  • citrulline;
  • glutamine;
  • N remobilization;
  • xylem sap

Seasonal patterns of N translocation in the xylem sap of Betula pendula were studied, to determine whether specific amino acids were recovered in spring as a consequence of N remobilization. Seedlings were grown in sand culture and provided with 15NH415NO3 (at 2·2 atom percent excess) for one growing season. The following winter dormant trees were transplanted into fresh sand and given N at natural abundance thereafter. Destructive harvests were taken during bud burst and leaf growth to determine the pattern of 15N remobilization and N uptake, along with isolation of xylem sap for analysis of their amino acid profiles and 15N enrichment by GC-MS. 15N remobilization occurred immediately following bud burst, while N derived from root uptake did not appear in the leaves until 12 d after bud burst. During N remobilization there was a 10-fold increase in the concentration of N in the xylem sap, due predominantly to increases in citrulline and glutamine. The 15N enrichment of these two amino acids demonstrated the increase in their concentration in the xylem sap following bud burst was due to N remobilization. These results are discussed in relation to measuring N remobilization and storage capacity of trees in the field.