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Keywords:

  • Nutrient uptake;
  • relative growth rate;
  • respiration

The rates of growth, net rate of nitrate uptake and root respiration of 24 wild species were compared under conditions of optimum nutrient supply. The relative growth rate (RGR)of the roots of these species varied between 110 and 370 mg g-1 day-1 and the net rate of nitrate uptake between 1 and 7 mmol (g root dry weight)-1 day-1. The rate of root respiration was positively correlated with the RGR of the roots. Root respiration was also calculated from the measured rate of growth and nitrate uptake, using previously determined values for the costs of maintenance, growth and ion uptake of two slow-growing species. The calculated rate of respiration was slightly lower than the measured one for slow-growing species, but twice as high as measured rates for rapid-growing species. This discrepancy was not due to a relatively smaller electron flow through the alternative pathway and, consequently, a more efficient ATP production in the fast-growing species. Neither could variation in specific costs for root growth or maintenance explain these differences. Therefore, we conclude that fast-growing species have lower specific respiratory costs for ion uptake than slow-growing ones. Due partly to these lower specific costs of nutrient uptake, the fraction of respiration that rapid-growing species spend on anion uptake is lower than that of slow-growing species, in spite of the much higher rate of ion uptake of the fast-growing ones.