Modelling postsilking nitrogen fluxes in maize (Zea mays) using 15N-labelling field experiments


Author for correspondence: André Gallais Tel: +33 169332331 Fax: +33 169332340 Email:


  • • In maize (Zea mays), nitrogen (N) remobilization and postflowering N uptake are two processes that provide amino acids for grain protein synthesis.
  • • To study the way in which N is allocated to the grain and to the stover, two different 15N-labelling techniques were developed. 15NO3 was provided to the soil either at the beginning of stem elongation or after silking. The distribution of 15N in the stover and in the grain was monitored by calculating relative 15N-specific allocation (RSA).
  • • A nearly linear relationship between the RSA of the kernels and the RSA of the stover was found as a result of two simultaneous N fluxes: N remobilization from the stover to the grain, and N allocation to the stover and to the grain originating from N uptake.
  • • By modelling the 15N fluxes, it was possible to demonstrate that, as a consequence of protein turnover, a large proportion of the amino acids synthesized from the N taken up after silking were integrated into the proteins of the stover, and these proteins were further hydrolysed to provide N to the grain.