Partitioning of nitrate assimilation among leaves, stems and roots of poplar

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Tree Physiology





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Plants differ in tissue localization of nitrate reduction and assimilation. Some species reduce nitrate primarily in the leaves, whereas other species localize nitrate reduction and assimilation in the roots. We determined how nitrate assimilation is partitioned among leaves, stems and roots of poplar (Populus tremula L. x P. alba L.) by comparing tissue differences in in vivo nitrate reductase activity (NRA), nitrate reductase abundance and tissue nitrate concentration. Compared with stems or roots, NRA was greater in leaves, and the highest leaf NRA was found in young leaves. Leaf and root NRA increased with increasing nitrate supply, whereas stem NRA remained constant. Leaf NRA was at least 10-fold greater than root NRA at all external nitrate concentrations. Nitrate reductase abundance increased in all tissues with increasing nitrate availability, and nitrate reductase abundance was at least 10-fold greater in leaves than in stems or roots at all nitrate availabilities. Tissue nitrate concentration increased with increasing nitrate supply and was greater in roots than in stems and leaves. Photoperiod influenced NRA, with leaf NRA declining in nitrate-fertilized plants with short daily photoperiods (8-h). We conclude that different tissues of poplar vary in nitrate assimilation with little nitrate assimilation occurring in roots and the most nitrate assimilation taking place in leaves.

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