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Plant Physiol. 1987 Jul;84(3):954-8.

The Nitrogen Use Efficiency of C(3) and C(4) Plants: I. Leaf Nitrogen, Growth, and Biomass Partitioning in Chenopodium album (L.) and Amaranthus retroflexus (L.).

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Department of Botany, University of California, Davis, California 95616.


The effect of applied nitrogen (N) on the growth, leaf expansion rate, biomass partitioning and leaf N levels of Chenopodium album (C(3)) and Amaranthus retroflexus (C(4)) were investigated. At a given applied N level, C. album had 50% greater leaf N per unit area (N(a)) than A. retroflexus. Nitrate accumulated at lower N(a) in A. retroflexus than C. album. A. retroflexus was more productive than C. album at high N, but C. album was more productive at low N. At high applied N, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), expressed either as net assimilation rate (NAR) per unit N or relative growth rate per unit N, was greater in A. retroflexus than C. album. However, at low applied N, C. album had a greater NUE on both an NAR and growth basis than A. retroflexus. The leaf area partitioning coefficient was similar in the species at high N, but was greater in A. retroflexus than C. album at low N. At low N, greater leaf area partitioning apparently lowered leaf N in A. retroflexus to levels at which necrosis occurred. In C. album by contrast, leaf area partitioning declined to a greater degree with declining N than it did in A. retroflexus, so that leaf N did not decline as much. Consequently, low N C. album plants did not lose leaf area to necrosis and had a greater NAR and NUE at low applied N than A. retroflexus.

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