Net Carbon Dioxide Assimilation, Carbon Isotope Discrimination, Growth, and Water-use Efficiency of Citrus Trees in Response to Nitrogen Status

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850
  • | 2 Environmental Biology, Research School of Biological Sciences, GPO Box 475, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

Five- to six-year-old `Redblush' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) trees on `Volkamer' lemon [VL = C. volkameriana (Ten. & Pasq.)] or sour orange (SO = C. aurantium L.) rootstock, were grown individually in 7.9-m3 lysimeters for 2.5 years using low to high rates of fertilizer N. Net CO2 assimilation (ACO2) of leaves and leaf dry mass per area (DM/a) increased with leaf N concentration, whereas leaf tissue C isotope discrimination (Δ) decreased. Leaf tissue Δ was negatively related to ACO2 and DM/a. Transient effects of rootstock on leaf N were reflected by similar effects on Δ. There was no effect of leaf N on water-use efficiency (WUE) of leaves (WUEL = ACO2/transpiration); WUEL was not correlated with Δ. Although photosynthetic N use efficiency (ACO2/N) consistently decreased with increased leaf N, Δ was not consistently related to ACO2/N. Annual canopy growth, tree evapotranspiration (ET), and fruit yield increased with whole tree N uptake. Leaf tissue Δ was negatively related to all of these tree measurements at the end of the second year. By that time, whole-tree WUE (WUET, annual canopy growth per ET) also was negatively related to Δ. Larger trees on VL had higher ET than trees on SO, but there were no rootstock effects on WUET or on Δ. Leaf tissue Δ was consistently higher than Δ values of trunk and woody root tissues. Citrus leaf tissue Δ can be a useful indicator of leaf N, characteristics of leaf gas exchange, tree growth, yield, and WUET in response to N availability.

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