Nitrogen dynamics and growth of seedlings of an N-fixing tree (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Walp.) exposed to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Seeds of Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Walp., a tree native to seasonal tropical forests of Central America, were inoculated with N-fixing Rhizobium bacteria and grown in growth chambers for 71 days to investigate interactive effects of atmospheric CO2 and plant N status on early seedling growth, nodulation, and N accretion. Seedlings were grown with CO2 partial pressures of 350 and 650 μbar (current ambient and a predicted partial pressure of the mid-21st century) and with plus N or minus N nutrient solutions to control soil N status. Of particular interest was seedling response to CO2 when grown without available soil N, a condition in which seedlings initially experienced severe N deficiency because bacterial N-fixation was the sole source of N. Biomass of leaves, stems, and roots increased significantly with CO2 enrichment (by 32%, 15% and 26%, respectively) provided seedlings were supplied with N fertilizer. Leaf biomass of N-deficient seedlings was increased 50% by CO2 enrichment but there was little indication that photosynthate translocation from leaves to roots or that plant N (fixed by Rhizobium) was altered by elevated CO2 . In seedlings supplied with soil N, elevated CO2 increased average nodule weight, total nodule weight per plant, and the amount of leaf nitrogen provided by N-fixation (as indicated by leaf δ15 N). While CO2 enrichment reduced the N concentration of some plant tissues, whole plant N accretion increased. Results support the contention that increasing atmospheric CO2 partial pressures will enhance productivity and N-fixing activity of N-fixing tree seedlings, but that the magnitude of early seedling response to CO2 will depend greatly on plant and soil nutrient status.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Thomas, RB; Richter, DD; Ye, H; Heine, PR; Strain, BR

Published Date

  • November 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 88 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 415 - 421

PubMed ID

  • 28313805

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-1939

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-8549

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/bf00317587


  • eng