Leaf delta N-15 as a physiological indicator of the responsiveness of N-2-fixing alfalfa plants to elevated [CO2], temperature and low water availability

Autores: Ariz, I; Cruz, C.; Neves, T.; Irigoyen Iparrea, Juan José; García-Olaverri, C.; Nogués, S.; Aparicio-Tejo, P.M.; Aranjuelo, I.
Título de la revista: FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE
ISSN: 1664-462X
Volumen: 6
Páginas: 574
Fecha de publicación: 2015
The natural N-15/N-14 isotope composition (delta N-15) of a tissue is a consequence of its N source and N physiological mechanisms in response to the environment. It could potentially be used as a tracer of N metabolism in plants under changing environmental conditions, where primary N metabolism may be complex, and losses and gains of N fluctuate over time. In order to test the utility of delta N-15 as an indicator of plant N status in N-2-fixing plants grown under various environmental conditions, alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) plants were subjected to distinct conditions of [CO2] (400 vs. 700 mu mol mol(-1)), temperature (ambient vs. ambient +4 degrees C) and water availability (fully watered vs. water deficiency-WD). As expected, increased [CO2] and temperature stimulated photosynthetic rates and plant growth, whereas these parameters were negatively affected by WD. The determination of delta N-15 in leaves, stems, roots, and nodules showed that leaves were the most representative organs of the plant response to increased [CO2] and WD. Depletion of heavier N isotopes in plants grown under higher [CO2] and WD conditions reflected decreased transpiration rates, but could also be related to a higher N demand in leaves, as suggested by the decreased leaf N and total soluble protein (TSP) contents detected at 700 mu mol mol(-1) [CO2] and WD conditions. In summary, leaf delta N-15 provides relevant information integrating parameters which condition plant responsiveness (e.g., photosynthesis, TSP, N demand, and water transpiration) to environmental conditions.