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Plant Cell Environ. 2008 Jun;31(6):727-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01787.x. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Nitrogen deficiency inhibits leaf blade growth in Lolium perenne by increasing cell cycle duration and decreasing mitotic and post-mitotic growth rates.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Grünlandlehre, Technische Universität München, Am Hochanger 1, D-85350 Freising, Weihenstephan, Germany.


Nitrogen deficiency severely inhibits leaf growth. This response was analysed at the cellular level by growing Lolium perenne L. under 7.5 mM (high) or 1 mM (low) nitrate supply, and performing a kinematic analysis to assess the effect of nitrogen status on cell proliferation and cell growth in the leaf blade epidermis. Low nitrogen supply reduced leaf elongation rate (LER) by 43% through a similar decrease in the cell production rate and final cell length. The former was entirely because of a decreased average cell division rate (0.023 versus 0.032 h(-1)) and thus longer cell cycle duration (30 versus 22 h). Nitrogen status did not affect the number of division cycles of the initial cell's progeny (5.7), and accordingly the meristematic cell number (53). Meristematic cell length was unaffected by nitrogen deficiency, implying that the division and mitotic growth rates were equally impaired. The shorter mature cell length arose from a considerably reduced post-mitotic growth rate (0.033 versus 0.049 h(-1)). But, nitrogen stress did not affect the position where elongation stopped, and increased cell elongation duration. In conclusion, nitrogen deficiency limited leaf growth by increasing the cell cycle duration and decreasing mitotic and post-mitotic elongation rates, delaying cell maturation.

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