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Trends Plant Sci. 2000 Jul;5(7):304-8.

Are microorganisms more effective than plants at competing for nitrogen?

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Department of Biology, PO Box 373, University of York, York, YO10 5YW UK.


Plant scientists have long debated whether plants or microorganisms are the superior competitor for nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems. Microorganisms have traditionally been viewed as the victors but recent evidence that plants can take up organic nitrogen compounds intact and can successfully acquire N from organic patches in soil raises the question anew. We argue that the key determinants of 'success' in nitrogen competition are spatial differences in nitrogen availability and in root and microbial distributions, together with temporal differences in microbial and root turnover. Consequently, it is not possible to discuss plant-microorganism competition without taking into account this spatiotemporal context.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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