Role of phosphorus and nitrogen in photosynthetic and whole plant carbon gain and nutrient use efficiency in eastern white pine

P. B. Reich, A. W. Schoettle

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Abstract

In white pine (Pinus strobus) seedlings grown in five forest soils from New York State, net photosynthetic capacity (Amax) plant-1 was correlated with total foliar N plant-1 (r2=0.57), but was more highly correlated with total foliar P plant-1 (r2=0.82). There was no relationship (r2<0.01) between Amax [g leaf]-1 and foliar N [g leaf]-1 for the pooled data set, but there was a significant (P<0.001), but weak (r2=0.20) positive relationship between Amax [g leaf]-1 and foliar P [g leaf]-1 across all soils. However, within two of the five soils leaf N concentration was a significant (P<0.05) determinant of photosynthetic capacity. Due to differences in soil nutrient availabilities a large range in foliar P:N ratio (0.02-0.15) was observed, and the proportion of leaf P:N appeared to control Amax [g leaf N]-1. Whole plant nitrogen (NUE) and phosphorus (PUE) use efficiencies were well correlated with whole plant P:N ratio. In addition, NUE was well correlated with Amax [g leaf N]-1 and PUE was well correlated with Amax [g leaf P]-1. However, NUE was not well correlated with PUE, and Amax [g leaf N]-1 was not well correlated with Amax [g leaf P]-1. These results indicated that P and/or N limitations were important components of photosynthetic nutrient relations in white pine grown in these five soils and suggest that both P and N and their proportions should be considered in analyses of photosynthesis-nutrient relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalOecologia
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 1988

Keywords

  • Nitrogen
  • Nutrient use efficiency
  • Phosphorus
  • Photosynthesis
  • Pinus strobus

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