Tracing nitrogen flow in a root-hemiparasitic association by foliar stable-isotope labelling
Methods – Double-labelled urea (98 atom % 15N, 99 atom % 13C) solution (2 g dm-3) was applied on host plants grown with hemiparasites by a single foliar brushing. Above- and belowground biomass of both species was harvested 3, 7, and 14 d after host labelling and its isotopic composition was analyzed. Final isotopic enrichment of biomass was expressed as the atom percent difference between labelled samples and the mean of corresponding controls.
Key results – Our results showed that a single leaf-brushing with 15N13C-urea provided sufficiently 15N-labelled plant material, but it was insufficient to shift the natural abundance of 13C in both species. Similar 15N values were found for the host and hemiparasite biomass already 3 d after labelling, but the 15N enrichment of attached hemiparasite significantly increased in time. Within a week, 15N-label gradually dispersed into the host tissues and was simultaneously transferred into the hemiparasite via the root connections.
Conclusions – We present foliar brushing by 15N-urea as a simple and precise labelling method, which can be widely applied in both greenhouse and field experiments to examine the nitrogen flows between root hemiparasites and their host species. The transfer of nitrogen to the hemiparasite is fast and thus an experimental period of 7 d seems largely sufficient for field studies where the equilibrium state of labelling is of interest.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: 01 March 2016
Plant Ecology and Evolution (a continuation of Belgian Journal of Botany, incorporating Systematics and Geography of Plants) is an international journal devoted to ecology, phylogenetics and systematics of all 'plant' groups in the traditional sense (including algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, myxomycetes), also covering related fields such as comparative and developmental morphology, conservation biology, ecophysiology, evolution, phytogeography, pollen and spores, population biology, and vegetation studies. It is published by the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium and the Botanic Garden Meise and contains original research papers, review articles, checklists, short communications and book reviews.
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