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Effects of leaf age nitrogen nutrition and photon flux density on the distribution of nitrogen among leaves of a vine (Ipomoea tricolor Cav.) grown horizontally to avoid mutual shading of leaves

Journal Article

Hikosaka K; Terashima I; Katoh S

1994

Oecologia

97

451-457

Effects of leaf age nitrogen nutrition and photon flux density (PFD) on the distribution of nitrogen among leaves were investigated in a vine Ipomoea tricolor Cav. which had been grown horizontally so as to avoid mutual shading of leaves. The nitrogen content was highest in newly developed young leaves and decreased with age of leaves in plants grown at low nitrate concentrations and with all leaves exposed to full sunlight. Thus a distinct gradient of leaf nitrogen content was formed along the gradient of leaf age. However no gradient of leaf nitrogen content was formed in plants grown at a high nitrate concentration. Effects of PFD on the distribution of nitrogen were examined by shading leaves in a manner that simulated changes in the light gradient of an erect herbaceous canopy (i.e. where old leaves were placed under increasingly darker conditions with growth of the canopy). This canopy-type shading steepened the gradient of leaf nitrogen content in plants grown at a low nitrogen supply and created a gradient in plants grown at high concentrations of nitrate. The steeper the gradient of PFD the larger the gradient of leaf nitrogen that was formed. When the gradient of shading was inverted that is younger leaves were subjected to increasingly heavier shade while keeping the oldest leaves exposed to full sunlight an inverted gradient of leaf nitrogen content was formed at high nitrate concentrations. The gradient of leaf nitrogen content generated either by advance of leaf age at low nitrogen availability or by canopy-type shading was comparable to those reported for the canopies of erect herbaceous plants. It is concluded that both leaf age and PFD have potential to cause the non-uniform distribution of leaf nitrogen. It is also shown that the contribution of leaf age increases with the decrease in nitrogen nutrition level.

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The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.