Uncoupling nitrogen requirements for spring growth from root uptake in a young evergreen shrub (Rhododendron ferrugineum)

Authors

  • T. Lamaze,

    1. Centre d’Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère, CNES-CNRS-IRD-UMR 5639, Université Paul Sabatier, F−31401 Toulouse cedex 4, France;
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  • F. Pasche,

    1. Centre d’Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère, CNES-CNRS-IRD-UMR 5639, Université Paul Sabatier, F−31401 Toulouse cedex 4, France;
    2. Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS-FRE 2629, Université Paul Sabatier, F−31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France
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  • A. Pornon

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS-FRE 2629, Université Paul Sabatier, F−31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France
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Author for correspondence: A. Pornon Fax: +33 5 61557327 Email: Pornon@cict.fr

Abstract

  • •   Internal cycling of nitrogen (N) was investigated in a subalpine field population of the evergreen shrub Rhododendron ferrugineum during spring growth.
  • •   The foliar nitrogen of 5-yr-old-plants was directly labeled with 15N and subsequently traced to all plant compartments. In addition, 15N-ammonium uptake was estimated in glasshouse experiments.
  • •   Before shoot growth, redistribution of 15N occurred in the plant without net N transfer. During spring development, the decreases in both leaf 15N and total N were almost identical in terms of percentage, and most of the 15N withdrawn from the leaf compartments was recovered in the growing shoots. Net changes in the N contents of the various leaf and woody compartments indicate that internal remobilization (especially from 1-yr-old leaves) could have met most of the N needs of new shoot growth. Simultaneously, the rate of mineral N uptake was very low.
  • •   Thus, leaves in young plants provide N for new shoots (by contrast with old individuals) and allow, with woody tissues, almost complete uncoupling of N requirement for spring growth from root uptake.

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