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Plant Physiol. Apr 1995; 107(4): 1355–1364.
PMCID: PMC157270

Nitrate Effects on Nodule Oxygen Permeability and Leghemoglobin (Nodule Oximetry and Computer Modeling).


Two current hypotheses to explain nitrate inhibition of nodule function both involve decreased O2 supply for respiration in support of N2 fixation. This decrease could result from either (a) decreased O2 permeability (PO) of the nodule cortex, or (b) conversion of leghemoglobin (Lb) to an inactive, nitrosyl form. These hypotheses were tested using alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. cv Weevlchek) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L. cv Fergus) plants grown in growth pouches under controlled conditions. Nodulated roots were exposed to 10 mM KNO3 or KCI. Fractional oxygenation of Lb under air (FOLair), relative concentration of functional Lb, apparent PO, and O2-saturated central zone respiration rate were all monitored by nodule oximetry. Apparent PO and FOLair in nitrate-treated nodules decreased to <50% of values for KCI controls within 24 h, but there was no decrease in functional Lb concentration during the first 72 h. In nitrate-treated alfalfa, but not in birdsfoot trefoil, FOLair, apparent PO, and O2-saturated central zone respiration rate decreased during each light period and recovered somewhat during the subsequent dark period. This species difference could be explained by greater reliance on photoreduction of nitrate in alfalfa than in birdsfoot trefoil. Computer simulations extended the experimental results, showing that previously reported decreases in apparent PO of Glycine max nodules with nitrate exposure cannot be explained by hypothetical decreases in the concentration or O2 affinity of Lb.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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