Nitrogen Storage and Its Interaction with Carbohydrates of Young Almond Trees in Response to Nitrogen Supply

in HortScience

June-budded `Nonpareil/Nemaguard' almond (Prunus dulcis (Mill) D.A. Webb) trees were fertigated with one of five nitrogen (N) concentrations (0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm) in a modified Hoagland's solution from July to September. In October, the trees were sprayed twice with either water or 3% urea, then harvested after natural leaf fall and stored at 2°C. Trees were destructively sampled during winter storage to determine their concentrations of amino acids, protein, and non-structural carbohydrates (TNC). Increasing N supply either via N fertigation during the growing season or with foliar urea applications in the fall increased the concentrations of both free and total amino acids, whereas decreased their C/N ratios. Moreover, as the N supply increased, the proportion of nitrogen stored as free amino acids also increased. However, protein was still the main form of N used for storage. The predominant amino acid in both the free and total amino-acid pools was arginine. Arginin N accounted for an increasing proportion of the total N in both the free and total amino acids as the N supply was increased. However, the proportion of arginine N was higher in the free amino acids than in the total amino acids. A negative relationship was found between total amino acid and non-structural carbohydrate concentrations, suggesting that TNC is increasingly used for N assimilation as the supply of N increases. Urea applications decreased the concentrations of glucose, fructose, and sucrose, but had little influence on concentrations of sorbitol and starch. We conclude that protein is the primary form of storage N, and that arginine is the predominant amino acid. Furthermore, the synthesis of amino acids and proteins comes at the expense of non-structural carbohydrates.

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