Nitrogen remobilization response to current supply in young citrus trees
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Internal nitrogen (N) storage and remobilization processes support seasonal growth (flowering/fructification and subsequent leaf development) in particular in early spring, when soil temperatures are unfavourable for adequate N uptake. Storage nitrogen mobilization in young citrus trees was studied under two contrasting N supplies; high N (HN) and low N dose (LN) in the critical period of flowering and fruit set. N-15 labelling technique was used to distinguish N derived from internal remobilization from that taken up by the roots. Regardless N supply, the greatest N remobilization took place from the beginning of the vegetative activity until flowering. Low N availability significantly increased (+14%) N retranslocation at the end of June drop agreeing with the hypothesis that reserve mobilization depends on soil N availability during flowering and fruit set. At the end of fruit drop, N remobilization contributed up to 70% and 61% of total N of young organs for LN and HN, respectively. Remobilized N was mainly recovered in abscised organs of both HN and LN trees and to a lesser extent in new flush leaves; however a greater percentage partitioned to abscised organs of LN as a consequence of the greater remobilization rate and the increased fruit abscission. Old leaves of LN remobilized significantly higher N, while woody organs and root system did not show differences between HN and LN supplied trees. The results presented in this paper demonstrate that the amount of N remobilized by young citrus plants depends on external N availability. Thus, low N application rates in early stages (flowering and fruit set) lead to higher translocation of N stored during the previous cycle to developing new organs.