Relationship between tree nitrogen status, xylem and phloem sap amino acid concentrations, and apparent soil nitrogen uptake by almond trees (Prunus dulcis)

Youssefi, F.; Brown, P.H.; Weinbaum, S.A.

Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology 75(1): 62-68


ISSN/ISBN: 1462-0316
DOI: 10.1080/14620316.2000.11511201
Accession: 003545263

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Four N application rates generated a range of tree N status as indicated by leaf N concentrations in 6-year-old trees of Mission almond. Leaf N concentrations were related positively to concentrations of amino acids (especially asparagine and glutamine) in phloem and xylem saps. A pulse of 1.25 kg N per tree was applied to trees previously receiving 0, 78, 157 or 313 g N per tree, annually. Apparent uptake of soil N into above-ground tree parts was determined over a 39-day period. N uptake was determined as the difference in the products of tree biomass and tissue N concentrations before and after the N pulse. Tissue N concentrations increased significantly in trees previously receiving the two lowest N application rates, whereas trees previously receiving the high N treatments were unresponsive. Tree N contents (0 g N per year, and also 78 g N per year treatments) increased slightly in response to the N pulse, although statistical differences were not observed due possibly to high variability in biomass among trees. At the same time, the amino acid concentrations in phloem exudate and xylem sap were highest in trees grown under the highest N fertilizer regime. It is suggested that the high amino acid concentrations in the phloem and xylem saps are indicative of a larger pool of amino N cycling throughout the vasculature of high N-status trees. The data indicate an inverse relationship between tree N status, amino acid concentrations in xylem and phloem saps and capacity for soil N uptake in field-grown trees. These results represent the first field data to correlate the concentration of amino acids circulating in the plant vasculature with soil N uptake. A functional relationship between the amino acid concentrations cycling within the tree and the regulation of soil N uptake has, however, not yet been established.