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Title: The carbon bonus of organic nitrogen enhances nitrogen use efficiency of plants

The importance of organic nitrogen (N) for plant nutrition and productivity is increasingly being recognized. Here we show that it is not only the availability in the soil that matters, but also the effects on plant growth. The chemical form of N taken up, whether inorganic (such as nitrate) or organic (such as amino acids), may significantly influence plant shoot and root growth, and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). We analysed these effects by synthesizing results from multiple laboratory experiments on small seedlings (Arabidopsis, poplar, pine and spruce) based on a tractable plant growth model. A key point is that the carbon cost of assimilating organic N into proteins is lower than that of inorganic N, mainly because of its carbon content. This carbon bonus makes it more beneficial for plants to take up organic than inorganic N, even when its availability to the roots is much lower – up to 70% lower for Arabidopsis seedlings. At equal growth rate, root:shoot ratio was up to three times higher and nitrogen productivity up to 20% higher for organic than inorganic N, which both are factors that may contribute to higher NUE in crop production.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [4] ;  [5]
  1. International Inst. for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg (Austria); Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
  2. Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Dept. of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology
  3. Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
  4. Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States). Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
  5. Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Dept. of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology; Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umea (Sweden). Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0006967; ERC-2013-SyG-610028
Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Plant, Cell and Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 40; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0140-7791
Publisher:
Wiley
Research Org:
Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Biological Systems Science Division; Swedish Research Council (SRC); European Research Council (ERC); USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
OSTI Identifier:
1335709
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1344139; OSTI ID: 1425469