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Relationships between functional traits and inorganic nitrogen acquisition among eight contrasting European grass species

Abstract : Backgrounds and Aims Leaf functional traits have been used as a basis to categoize plants across a range of resource- use specialization, from those that conserve available resources to those that exploit them. However, the extent to which the leaf functional traits used to define the resource-use strategies are related to root traits and are good indicators of the ability of the roots to take up nitrogen (N) are poorly known. This is an important question because interspecific differences in N uptake have been proposed as one mechanism by which species' coexistence may be determined. This study therefore investigated the relationships between functional traits and N uptake ability for grass species across a range of conservative to exploitative resource-use strategies. Methods Root uptake of NH4+ and NO3, and leaf and root functional traits were measured for eight grass species sampled at three grassland sites across Europe, in France, Austria and the UK. Species were grown in hydroponics to determine functional traits and kinetic uptake parameters (I-max and K-m) under standardized conditions. Key Results Species with high specific leaf area (SLA) and shoot N content, and low leaf and root dry matter content (LDMC and RDMC, respectively), which are traits associated with the exploitative syndrome, had higher uptake and affinity for both N forms. No trade-off was observed in uptake between the two forms of N, and all species expressed a higher preference for NH4+. Conclusions The results support the use of leaf traits, and especially SLA and LDMC, as indicators of the N uptake ability across a broad range of grass species. The difficulties associated with assessing root properties are also highlighted, as root traits were only weakly correlated with leaf traits, and only RDMC and, to a lesser extent, root N content were related to leaf traits.
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https://hal-normandie-univ.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02183520
Contributor : Sophie Delle Cave <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 15, 2019 - 1:34:00 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 17, 2020 - 8:26:04 AM

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Fabrice Grassein, Servane Lemauviel-Lavenant, Sandra Lavorel, Michael Bahn, Richard Bardgett, et al.. Relationships between functional traits and inorganic nitrogen acquisition among eight contrasting European grass species. Annals of Botany, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2015, 115 (1), pp.107-115. ⟨10.1093/aob/mcu233⟩. ⟨hal-02183520⟩

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