Journal Article

Interactive effects of nitrogen and water availabilities on gas exchange and whole-plant carbon allocation in poplar

L. Ibrahim, M. F. Proe and A. D. Cameron

in Tree Physiology

Volume 18, issue 7, pages 481-487
Published in print July 1998 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online July 1998 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Interactive effects of nitrogen and water availabilities on gas exchange and whole-plant carbon allocation in poplar

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Cuttings of balsam spire hybrid poplar (Populus trichocarpa var. Hastata Henry × Populus balsamifera var. Michauxii (Dode) Farwell) were grown in sand culture and irrigated every 2 (W) or 10 (w) days with a solution containing either 3.0 (N) or 0.5 (n) mol nitrogen m−3 for 90 days. Trees in the WN (control) and wn treatments had stable leaf nitrogen concentrations averaging 19.4 and 8.4 mg g−1, respectively, over the course of the experiment. Trees in the Wn and wN treatments had a similar leaf nitrogen concentration, which increased from 12.0 to 15.8 mg g−1 during the experiment. By the final harvest, mean stomatal conductances of trees in the wN and wn treatments were less than those of trees in the Wn and WN treatments (1.8 versus 4.6 mm s−1). Compared to the WN treatment, biomass at the final harvest was reduced by 61, 72 and 75% in the Wn, wN and wn treatments, respectively.

At the final harvest, WN trees had a mean total leaf area of 4750 ± 380 cm2 tree−1 and carried 164 ± 8 leaves tree−1 with a specific leaf area of 181 ± 16 cm2 g−1, whereas Wn trees had a smaller mean total leaf area (1310 ± 30 cm2 tree−1), because of the production of fewer leaves (41 ± 6) with a smaller specific leaf area (154 ± 2 cm2 g−1). A greater proportion of biomass was allocated to roots in Wn trees than in WN trees, but component nitrogen concentrations adjusted such that there was no Wn treatment effect on nitrogen allocation. Compared with WN trees, rates of photosynthesis and respiration per unit weight of tissue of Wn trees decreased by 28 and 31%, respectively, but the rate of photosynthesis per unit leaf nitrogen remained unaltered.

The wN and Wn trees had similar leaf nitrogen concentrations; however, compared with the Wn treatment, the wN treatment decreased mean total leaf area (750 ± 50 cm2 tree−1), number of leaves per tree (29 ± 2) and specific leaf area (140 ± 6 cm2 g−1), but increased the allocation of biomass and nitrogen to roots. Net photosynthetic rate per unit leaf nitrogen was 45% lower in the wN treatment than in the other treatments. Rates of net photosynthesis and respiration per unit weight of tissue were 48 and 33% less, respectively, in wN trees than in Wn trees.

Keywords: biomass allocation; nitrogen supply; photosynthesis; plant growth responses; Populus; respiration; water supply

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Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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