Journal Article

Ozone impairs autumnal resorption of nitrogen from birch (<i>Betula pendula</i>) leaves, causing an increase in whole-tree nitrogen loss through litter fall

Johan Uddling, Per Erik Karlsson, Anders Glorvigen and Gun Selldén

in Tree Physiology

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 113-120
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Ozone impairs autumnal resorption of nitrogen from birch (Betula pendula) leaves, causing an increase in whole-tree nitrogen loss through litter fall

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Saplings of one half-sib family of birch, Betula pendula Roth, were exposed to three ozone concentrations (non-filtered air (NF); non-filtered air + 10–20 nmol O3 mol−1 (NF+); non-filtered air + 40–60 nmol O3 mol−1 (NF++)) in open-top chambers during two growing seasons from 1997 to 1998. Shed leaves were collected regularly during both growing seasons and, in 1998, the dry mass (DM) and nitrogen (N) concentrations ([N]) of the shed leaves were measured to quantify the total amount of N lost through litter fall. Dry mass and [N] were also determined in mid-August for attached, mature and non-senescent leaves, in order to estimate autumnal leaf N resorption efficiency and proportional leaf DM decrease. Net photosynthetic capacity was measured during August and September 1998, in a population of leaves that emerged in mid-July. Photosynthesis declined with increasing leaf age in the NF++ treatment, whereas it remained high throughout the measurement period in the NF and NF+ treatments. In both years, leaves abscised prematurely in the NF++ treatment, whereas this effect was only significant in 1998 in the NF+ treatment. There was a strong linear relationship between proportional leaf shedding and daylight ozone exposure above a threshold of 40 nmol mol−1 (daylight AOT40) during the growing season. The resorption of N was significantly impaired by ozone, and the smaller autumnal decrease in leaf DM in elevated ozone concentrations suggested that the bulk resorption of leaf DM was also inhibited. Nitrogen resorption efficiencies were 81, 73 and 63% and leaf mass decreases were 45, 36 and 30% in the NF, NF+ and NF++ treatments, respectively. Compared with the NF treatment, total N loss through litter fall was increased by 16 and 122% in the NF+ and NF++ treatments, respectively. We conclude that ozone impaired N resorption from birch leaves before abscission, causing a substantial increase in whole-tree N loss through litter fall.

Keywords: abscission; nitrogen resorption efficiency; photosynthesis; senescence

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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