Nitrogen (N) uptake and utilization in seedlings of six full-sib families of coastal Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) known to differ in growth rate were assessed at the whole plant and root levels. Seedlings were grown in soil or aeroponically with high and low nutrient availability. Consistent family differences in growth rate and N utilization index were observed in both soil and aeroponic culture, and high-ranking families by these measures also had greater net N uptake in soil culture. Two of the three families found to be fast-growing in long-term field trials exhibited faster growth, higher N utilization indices and greater net N uptake at the seedling stage. Mean family net influx of ammonium (NH4+) and efflux of nitrate (NO3+) in the high- and low-nutrient treatments were significantly correlated with measures of mean family biomass. The high-nutrient availability treatment increased mean net fluxes of NH4+ and NO3− in roots. These results indicate that efficiency of nutrient uptake and utilization contribute to higher growth rates of trees. Nutrient-related traits should be considered in tree breeding programs, as the indications are that assessments may be made at an early stage.
Keywords: aeroponic; ammonium flux; microelectrodes; nitrate flux; nitrogen uptake; nitrogen use; nitrogen utilization index
Journal Article. 0 words.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry
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