Journal Article

The relationship between relative growth rate and whole-plant C : N : P stoichiometry in plant seedlings grown under nutrient-enriched conditions

Youhong Peng, Karl J. Niklas and Shucun Sun

in Journal of Plant Ecology

Published on behalf of IBCAS and the Botanical Society of China

Volume 4, issue 3, pages 147-156
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 1752-9921
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1752-993X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpe/rtq026
The relationship between relative growth rate and whole-plant C : N : P stoichiometry in plant seedlings grown under nutrient-enriched conditions

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Aims

Recent theories indicate that N is more in demand for plant growth than P; therefore, N concentration and N : C and N : P ratios are predicted to be positively correlated with relative growth rate (RGR) in plants under nutrient-enriched conditions. This prediction was tested in this study.

Methods

We examined the whole-plant concentrations of C, N and P and RGR, as well as the relationship between RGR and the concentrations and the ratios of N : C, P : C and N : P, for different harvest stages (the days after seed germination) of the seedlings of seven shrub species and four herbaceous species grown in N and P non-limiting conditions. The relationships among plant size, nutrient concentrations and ratios were subsequently determined.

Important Findings

RGR was positively correlated with N concentration and the ratios of N : P and N : C when the data were pooled for all species and for each shrub species, but not for individual herbaceous species. However, the relationship between RGR and P concentration and P : C was not significantly correlated for either shrubs or herbs. The variation of N among harvest stages and species was much greater than that of P, and the variation in N : P ratio was determined primarily by changes in N concentration. The shrub species differed from the herbaceous species in their N and P concentrations, nutrient ratios and in intraspecific relationships between RGR and nutrient ratios. These differences possibly reflect differences in the capacity for P storage and biomass allocation patterns. In general, our data support recent theoretical predictions regarding the relationship between RGR and C : N : P stoichiometry, but they also show that species with different life forms differ in the relationships among RGR and C : N : P stoichimetries.

Keywords: C : N : P stoichiometry; RGR; growth rate hypothesis; life forms; seedlings; screening experiment

Journal Article.  5579 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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