Remobilization of acorn nitrogen for seedling growth in holm oak (Quercus ilex), cultivated with contrasting nutrient availability.Tree Physiol. 2010 Feb; 30(2):257-63.TP
The relative contribution of nitrogen (N) reserves from seeds or uptake by the roots to the growth and N content of young seedlings has received little attention. In this study, we investigated the contribution of N from the acorn or uptake by the roots to the N content of holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) seedlings and determined if remobilization of acorn N was affected by nutrient availability in the growing media. Q. ilex seedlings were cultivated for 3 months, until the end of the second shoot flush of growth, with three N fertilization rates: 8.6 mM N, 1.4 mM N or no fertilization. Fertilizer N was enriched in (15)N. Between 62 and 75% of the N contained in high and low fertilized seedlings, respectively, at the end of the second flush of growth was derived from the acorn. However, the dependence on acorn N was greater during the early root growth and first shoot flush of growth and decreased during the second shoot flush of growth, with root uptake contributing 32-54% of plant new N in this latter developmental stage in high and low fertilized plants, respectively. Fertilization rate did not affect the amount of N taken up during the earliest developmental stages, but it increased it during the second shoot flush of growth. Fertilization increased the mass of the shoot segment formed during the second shoot flush of growth and reduced the root mass, with no effect on whole plant growth. Remobilization of acorn N was faster in unfertilized plants than in fertilized plants. It is concluded that the holm oak seedlings depend greatly upon acorn N until the end of the second shoot flush of growth, that significant root N uptake starts at the beginning of the second shoot flush of growth and that acorn N remobilization is a plastic process that is accelerated under extremely low substratum nutrient content.