A comparative kinetic analysis of nitrate and ammonium influx in two early-successional tree species of temperate and boreal forest ecosystems


Correspondence: Dr Anthony D.M. Glass. Fax: +1 604 822 6089; E-mail: aglass@unixg.ubc.ca


Root NO3 and NH4+ influx systems of two early-successional species of temperate (trembling aspen: Populus tremuloides Michx.) and boreal (lodgepole pine: Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud. var. latifolia Engelm.) forest ecosystems were characterized. NO3 and NH4+ influxes were biphasic, consisting of saturable high-affinity (HATS) and constitutive non-saturable low-affinity transport systems (LATS) that were evident at low and relatively high N concentrations, respectively. NO3 influx via HATS was inducible (IHATS); nitrate pre-treatment resulted in 8–10-fold increases in the Vmax for influx in both species. By contrast, HATS for NH4+ were entirely constitutive. In both species, Vmax values for NH4+ influx were higher than those for NO3 uptake; the differences were larger in pine (6-fold) than aspen (1·8-fold). In aspen, the Km for NH4+ influx by HATS was approximately 3-fold higher than for IHATS NO3 influx, while in pine the Km for IHATS NO3 influx was approximately 3-fold higher than for NH4+ influx. The aspen IHATS for NO3 influx appeared to be more efficient than that of pine (Vmax values for aspen being approximately 10-fold higher and Km values being approximately 13-fold lower than for pine). By contrast, only small differences in values for the NH4+ HATS were evident between the two species. The kinetic parameters observed here probably result from adaptations to the N availabilities in their respective natural habitats; these may contribute to the distribution and niche separation of these species.