Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effects of water availability, nitrogen supply and atmospheric CO2 concentrations on plant nitrogen natural abundance values

William D. Stock A B D and John R. Evans C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Botany, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa.

B Centre for Ecosystem Management, School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia.

C Environmental Biology, Research School for Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: w.stock@ecu.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 33(3) 219-227 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP05188
Submitted: 20 July 2005  Accepted: 4 November 2005   Published: 2 March 2006

Abstract

The relative effects of soil N, water supply and elevated atmospheric CO2 on foliar δ15N values were examined. Phalaris arundinacea L. (Holdfast) and Physalis peruviana L. (Cape Gooseberry) were grown for 80 d with three water availability treatments, two atmospheric CO2 concentrations and four N supply rates. Elevated CO2 increased total plant biomass and N for each treatment and decreased allocation to roots, leaf N concentrations and stomatal conductance. Leaves had less negative leaf δ13C values under low water supply associated with decreased stomatal conductance and increased leaf N concentration, which decreased the ratio of intercellular to ambient CO2 concentration. The δ15N value of the supplied nitrate (4.15‰) was similar to the value for Phalaris leaves (4.11‰), but Cape Gooseberry leaves were enriched (6.52‰). The effects of elevated CO2 on leaf δ15N values were small, with Phalaris showing no significant change, while Cape Gooseberry showed a significant (P < 0.05) decline of 0.42 ‰. Variation in δ15N values was unrelated to stomatal conductance, transpiration, differential use of N forms or denitrification. Plants with low foliar N concentrations tended to be depleted in 15N. We suggest that changes in N allocation alter foliar δ15N values under different CO2 and water treatments.

Keywords: carbon isotopes, denitrification, nitrogen allocation, nitrogen isotopes, stomatal conductance.


Acknowledgments

WDS would like to thank the University of Cape Town, the Foundation for Research and Development, South Africa and the Research School for Biological Sciences, Australian National University for financial support while on study and research leave.


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