The Relationship between Leaf Nitrogen Content and Photosynthesis in Apple Leaves

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Agriculture and Life Science 4017, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR 97331

Fertigation of young Fuji/M26 apple trees (Malus domestica Borkh.) with different nitrogen concentrations by using a modified Hoagland solution for 6 weeks resulted in a wide range of leaf nitrogen content in recently expanded leaves (from 0.9 to 4.4 g·m–2). Net photosynthesis at ambient CO2, carboxylation efficiency, and CO2-saturated photosynthesis of recently expanded leaves were closely related to leaf N content expressed on both leaf area and dry weight basis. They all increased almost linearly with increase in leaf N content when leaf N < 2.4 g·m–2, leveled off when leaf N increased further. The relationship between stomatal conductance and leaf N content was similar to that of net photosynthesis with leaf N content, but leaf intercellular CO2 concentration tended to decrease with increase in leaf N content, indicating non-stomatal limitation in leaves with low N content. Photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency was high when leaf N < 2.4 g·m–2, but decreased with further increase in leaf N content. Due to the correlation between leaf nitrogen and phosphorus content, photosynthesis was also associated with leaf P content, but to a lesser extent.

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