The effects of nitrogen nutrition on the water relations and gas exchange characteristics of wheat triticum aestivum

Morgan, J.A.

Plant Physiology (Rockville) 80(1): 52-58


ISSN/ISBN: 0032-0889
Accession: 006665784

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The purpose of this study was to characterize leaf photosynthetic and stomatal responses of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) plants grown under two N-nutritional regimes. High- and low-N regimes were imposed on growth-chamber-grown plants by fertilizing with nutrient solutions containing 12 or 1 millimolar nitrogen, respectively. Gas-exchange measurments indicated not only greater photosynthetic capacity of high-N plants under well-watered conditions, but also a greater sensitivity of CO2 exchange rate and leaf conductance to CO2 and leaf water potential compared to low-N plants. Increased sensitivity of high-N plants was associated with greater tissue elasticity, lower values of leaf osmotic pressure and greater aboveground biomass. These N-nutritional-related changes resulted in greater desiccation (lowered relative water content) of high-N plants as leaf water potential fell, and were implicated as being important in causing greater sensitivity of high-N leaf gas exchange to reductions in water potential. Water use efficiency of leaves, calculated as CO2 exchange rate/transpiration, increased from 9.1 to 13 millimoles per mole and 7.9 to 9.1 millimoles per mole for high- and low-N plants as water became limiting. Stomatal oscillations were commonly observed in the low-N treatment at low leaf water potentials and ambient CO2 concentrations, but disappeared as CO2 was lowered and stomata opened.