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Plant Physiol. 1986 Jan;80(1):52-8.

The Effects of N Nutrition on the Water Relations and Gas Exchange Characteristics of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.).

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  • 1United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Agricultural Engineering Research Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523.


The purpose of this study was to characterize leaf photosynthetic and stomatal responses of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) plants grown under two N-nutritional regimes. High- and low-N regimes were imposed on growth-chamber-grown plants by fertilizing with nutrient solutions containing 12 or 1 millimolar nitrogen, respectively. Gas-exchange measurements indicated not only greater photosynthetic capacity of high-N plants under well-watered conditions, but also a greater sensitivity of CO(2) exchange rate and leaf conductance to CO(2) and leaf water potential compared to low-N plants. Increased sensitivity of high-N plants was associated with greater tissue elasticity, lower values of leaf osmotic pressure and greater aboveground biomass. These N-nutritional-related changes resulted in greater desiccation (lowered relative water content) of high-N plants as leaf water potential fell, and were implicated as being important in causing greater sensitivity of high-N leaf gas exchange to reductions in water potential. Water use efficiency of leaves, calculated as CO(2) exchange rate/transpiration, increased from 9.1 to 13 millimoles per mole and 7.9 to 9.1 millimoles per mole for high- and low-N plants as water became limiting. Stomatal oscillations were commonly observed in the low-N treatment at low leaf water potentials and ambient CO(2) concentrations, but disappeared as CO(2) was lowered and stomata opened.

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