Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Relationship between nitrogen resorption and leaf size in the aroid vine Rhodospatha oblongata (Araceae)

André Mantovani A D , Dulce Mantuano B and Eduardo Arcoverde de Mattos C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, Rua Pacheco Leão 915, sala 308, Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, RJ CEP 22460-030, Brazil.

B Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Universitária, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco A, Instituto de Biologia, Departamento de Botânica, Laboratório de Ecofisiologia Vegetal, sala A1 118, Ilha do Fundão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ CEP 21941-590, Brazil.

C Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Universitária, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco A, Instituto de Biologia, Departamento de Ecologia, sala A2 90, C.P. 68020, Ilha do Fundão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ CEP, 21941-970, Brazil.

D Corresponding author. Email: andre@jbrj.gov.br

Australian Journal of Botany 65(5) 431-437 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT16231
Submitted: 10 November 2016  Accepted: 30 June 2017   Published: 10 August 2017

Abstract

Nitrogen resorption (NR) from senescing leaves enhances nutrient conservation in plants. Leaf area in lianescent aroid vines increases dramatically as the plant ascends vertically on its host. In Rhodospatha oblongata Schott, the largest leaves have up to 35 times the area and 50 times the N content of the smallest. We hypothesised that despite the costs of reallocating nitrogen within the plant, the huge increase in nitrogen cost to produce larger new leaves in R. oblongata should lead to increased NR from large leaves, mitigating the high demands on N acquisition from primary sources. The amount of veins available per unit leaf area may however constrain the ability to reutilise nitrogen within the plant. It was found that N concentration was 2–3% in green and 1–2% in senescent leaves, independent of leaf area, whereas vein density increased with leaf area. N use efficiency, resorption efficiency, and proficiency were not affected by leaf area; however, results indicate that R. oblongata does not have a conservative use of N despite occurring in oligotrophic soils. The absence of increased N resorption indicates that R. oblongata may have the capacity to acquire large amounts of soil and aerial N to produce new larger leaves, which after leaf fall may positively affect litter decomposition.

Additional keywords: allomorphy, Brazil, leaf area, leaf litter, lowland forest.


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