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Fluctuations in nitrate reductase activity, and nitrate and organic nitrogen concentrations of succulent plants under different nitrogen and water regimes



The CAM ( Crassulacean acid metabolism ) succulent species Kalanchoe daigremontiana, K. tubiflora and Crassula argentea , and the succulent C 3 species Peperomia obtusifolia , were cultivated in pure culture in open-air conditions under two different regimes of nitrogen and water supply. At specified intervals during the course of vegetative growth, biomass, nitrate reductase activity (NRA), nitrate concentration, and organic nitrogen concentration of whole plants were measured. After 100 days of cultivation the leaf conductance of Crassula and Peperomia was measured at intervals for the duration of a day. Behaviour of all four species was strongly influenced by the cultivation regime. This was apparent in terms of productivity and variable flucturations in NRA, nitrate concentration, and organic nitrogen concentration during the vegetative period. Increase in biomass was mostly connected with a decrease in all other investigated parameters, especially under conditions of water and/or nitrogen deficiency. The typical reaction of the CAM species Crassula to limited netrogen but adequate soil water was to reduce leaf conductance during light, whereas the C 3 plant Peperomia increased conductance in comparison with plants having a nitrogen suppy. The NRA of all plant species was reduced by both soil nitrate deficiency and drought. The succulent plant species, which are specially adapted to drought, neither took up nor used nitrate when water was limited. This was particularly the case for the CAM species, but less so for the C 3 Peperomia , which showed very high concentrations of nitrate and organic nitrogen, but low NRA and biomass gain. A formula was derived to express the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of the species, i.e. the ability of a plant to use nitrogen over a specific period of growth. NUE was shown to increase with age for the crassulacean species but to decrease for the C 3 Peperomia . Furthermore, NUE varied with the different nutrient levels in a species-specific manner, with high values for NUE not necessarily coupled to high productivity, and with NUE of the C 3 species generally higher than that of CAM species.



OecologiaSpringer Journals

Published: May 1, 1993

DOI: 10.1007/BF00317316

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