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Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and nitrogen fertilization on nitrate reductase activity in sweetgum and loblolly pine trees in two temperate forests



Nitrogen (N) availability is a major factor limiting plant production in many terrestrial ecosystems and is a key regulator of plant response to elevated CO 2 . Plant N status is a function of both soil N availability and plant N uptake and assimilation capacity. As a rate-limiting step in nitrate assimilation, the reduction of nitrate is an important component of plant physiological response to elevated CO 2 and terrestrial carbon sequestration. We examine the effects of elevated CO 2 and N availability on the activity of nitrate reductase, the enzyme catalyzing the reduction of nitrate to nitrite, in two temperate forests—a closed canopy sweetgum ( Liquidambar styraciflua ) plantation in Tennessee (Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)) and a loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda ) stand in North Carolina (Duke). Both CO 2 and N enrichment had species specific impacts on nitrate reductase activity (NaR). Elevated CO 2 and N fertilization decreased foliar NaR in P. taeda , but there were no treatment effects on L. styraciflua NaR at ORNL or Duke. NaR in 1-year P. taeda needles was significantly greater than in 0-year old needles across treatments. P. taeda NaR was negatively correlated with bio-available molybdenum concentrations in soils, suggesting that CO 2 and N-mediated changes in soil nutrient status may be altering soil-plant N-dynamics. The variation in response among species may reflect different strategies for acquiring N and suggests that elevated CO 2 may alter plant N dynamics through changes in NaR.



Plant and SoilSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 1, 2009

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-008-9718-x

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