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Tree Physiol. 2009 Mar;29(3):401-9. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpn037. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

Uptake of inorganic and amino acid nitrogen from soil by Eucalyptus regnans and Eucalyptus pauciflora seedlings.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, Heydon-Laurence Building A08, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


This study examined whether two species of Eucalyptus can take up the amino acid glycine from soil and compared the uptake rate of glycine with the uptake rates of nitrate and ammonium. Ectomycorrhizal seedlings of two ecologically disparate species were studied: Eucalyptus regnans F. Muell., a fast-growing forest tree from low altitudes; and Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieber ex Spreng., a slow-growing tree that forms the alpine treeline. Seedlings were grown from seeds in field soil. When seedlings were 4-5 months old, soils were injected with equimolar mixtures of isotope-labeled glycine, ammonium and nitrate. Seedlings and soil were harvested 4 and 48 h later. Isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis of (13)C and (15)N enrichment in plants receiving glycine indicated uptake of 1.5 (13)C for every (15)N at the 4-h harvest (versus 2:1 (13)C:(15)N in labeled glycine), suggesting intact uptake of around 75% of glycine. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis detected intact (13)C(2),(15)N-glycine in roots, but the pool of (13)C(2),(15)N-glycine was 10-500 times smaller than (13)C and (15)N excess, and no (13)C(2),(15)N-glycine was detected in shoots. This is consistent with glycine being taken up as an intact molecule that is subsequently metabolized rapidly. Both species took up more nitrate than ammonium, and glycine was the least preferred form of nitrogen (N). Microbes took up more N than seedlings, and their preference for N forms was the mirror image of the plant preferences. These data suggest that patterns of microbial uptake may determine plant preference for forms of N.

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