J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2005, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (5): 539-548.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2005.00006.x

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Effect of Nitrogen Supply on the Nitrogen Use Efficiency of an Annual Herb, Helianthus annuus L.

Zhi-You YUAN, Ling-Hao LI, Jian-Hui HUANG, Xing-Guo HAN,Shi-Qiang WAN   

Abstract: Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is the product of nitrogen productivity (NP) and the mean residence time of nitrogen (MRT). Theory suggests that there should be a trade-off between both components, but direct experimental evidence is still scarce. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the effect of varying nitrogen supply levels on NUE and its two components (NP, MRT) in Helianthus annuus L., an annual herb. The plants investigated were subjected to six nitrogen levels (0, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 g N/m2). Total plant production increased substantially with increasing nitrogen supply. Nitrogen uptake and loss also increased with nitrogen supply. Nitrogen influx (rin) and outflux (rout) were defined as the rates of nitrogen uptake and loss per unit aboveground nitrogen, respectively. Both rin and rout increased with increasing nitrogen supply. In addition, rin was far higher than rout. Consequently, the relative rate of nitrogen increment (rin – rout) also increased with nitrogen supply. There were marked differences between treatments with respect to parameters related to the stress resistance syndrome: nitrogen pool size, leaf nitrogen concentration, and net aboveground productivity increased with nitrogen supply. Plants at high nitrogen levels showed a higher NP (the growth rate per unit aboveground nitrogen) and a shorter MRT (the inverse of rout), whereas plants at low nitrogen levels displayed the reverse pattern. Shorter MRT for plants at high nitrogen levels was caused by the abscission of leaves that contained relatively large fractions of total plant nitrogen. We found a negative relationship between NP and MRT, the components of NUE, along the gradient of nitrogen availability, suggesting that there was a trade-off between NP and MRT. The NUE increased with increasing nitrogen availability, up to a certain level, and then decreased. These results offer support for the hypothesis that adaptation to infertile habitats involves a low nitrogen loss (long MRT in the plant) rather than a high NUE per se. The higher NUE at the plant level was a result, in part, of greater nitrogen resorption during senescence. We suggest that a long MRT (an index of nitrogen conservation) is a potentially successful strategy in nitrogen-poor environments.

Key words: mean residence time, nitrogen productivity, nitrogen supply, nitrogen use efficiency, plant strategies.

Editorial Office, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, Institute of Botany, CAS
No. 20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China
Tel: +86 10 6283 6133 Fax: +86 10 8259 2636 E-mail: jipb@ibcas.ac.cn
Copyright © 2022 by the Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Online ISSN: 1744-7909 Print ISSN: 1672-9072 CN: 11-5067/Q