The influence of root assimilated inorganic carbon on nitrogen acquisition/assimilation and carbon partitioning


Author for correspondence: M.D. Cramer Tel. +27 21 6502444 Fax: +27 21 6504041 Email:


  • Understanding of the influences of root-zone CO2 concentration on nitrogen (N) metabolism is limited.
  • The influences of root-zone CO2 concentration on growth, N uptake, N metabolism and the partitioning of root assimilated 14C were determined in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
  • Root, but not leaf, nitrate reductase activity was increased in plants supplied with increased root-zone CO2. Root phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase activity was lower with NO3- than with NH4+-nutrition, and in the latter, was also suppressed by increased root-zone CO2. Increased growth rate in NO3-fed plants with elevated root-zone CO2 concentrations was associated with transfer of root-derived organic acids to the shoot and conversion to carbohydrates. With NH4+-fed plants, growth and total N were not altered by elevated root-zone CO2 concentrations, although 14C partitioning to amino acid synthesis was increased.
  • Effects of root-zone CO2 concentration on N uptake and metabolism over longer periods (> 1 d) were probably limited by feedback inhibition. Root-derived organic acids contributed to the carbon budget of the leaves through decarboxylation of the organic acids and photosynthetic refixation of released CO2.