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Leaf-level nitrogen use efficiency: definition and importance

Tadaki Hirose
Oecologia
Vol. 169, No. 3 (July 2012), pp. 591-597
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23259717
Page Count: 7
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Abstract

Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) has been widely used to study the relationship between nitrogen uptake and dry mass production in the plant. As a subsystem of plant nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), I have defined leaf-level NUE as the surplus production (gross production minus leaf respiration) per unit amount of nitrogen allocated to the leaf, with factorization into leaf nitrogen productivity (NP) and mean residence time of leaf nitrogen (MRT). These concepts were applied to two herbaceous stands: a perennial Solidago altissima stand and an annual Amaranthus patulus stand. S. altissima had more than three times higher leaf NUE than A. patulus due to nearly three times longer MRT of leaf N. In both species, NUE and NP were higher at the leaf level than at the plant level, because most leaf N is involved directly in the photosynthetic activity and because leaf surplus production is higher than the plant net production. MRT was longer at the plant level. The more than twice as long MRT at the plant level as at the leaf level in S. altissima was due to a large contribution of nitrogen storage belowground in the winter in this species. Thus, comparisons between a perennial and an annual system and between plant- and leaf-level NUE with their components revealed the importance of N allocation, storage, recycling, and turnover of organs for leaf photosynthetic production and plant dry mass growth.

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