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Pietro Santamaria and Antonio Elia

In a growth chamber, endive (Cichorium endivia L. var. crispum Hegi) plants were grown using a solution culture method to evaluate the influence of four ammonium : nitrate (NH4-N : NO3-N) percentage ratios (100:0, 70:30, 30:70, and 0:100) on growth (leaf area, dry mass, crop growth rate, relative growth rate, and net assimilation rate), yield characteristics (head and root fresh mass and root length), quality (dry matter, nitrogen, and nitrate), and inorganic ion content. No symptoms of NH4 + toxicity were detected in endive plants 8 weeks after beginning nutrient treatments. Moreover, by feeding N in mixed form, the growth indices increased compared to indices from feeding with any of the two N forms alone. Ammonium-fed plants produced nitrate-free heads with a fresh mass (171 g) similar to nitrate-fed plants. Compared to the other treatments, the heads of NH4 +-fed plants were darker green and more succulent. Mixed N improved yield but caused a remarkable accumulation of nitrate in heads. Following an increase in NO3-N from 30% to 70% in the nutrient solution, head fresh mass rose from 196 to 231 g and NO3 - concentration more than doubled (from 2.4 to 6.1 g·kg-1 fresh mass). With 100% of NO3-N, NO3 - concentration was 5.5 g·kg-1 fresh mass. With higher NO3-N percentages in the nutrient solution, the difference in the concentration of inorganic cations and anions increased, but K+ concentration was also high in ammonium-fed plants (on average 77 g·kg-1 dry mass). Head total N accumulation was increased by the presence of NH4 + in the nutrient solution and decreased with 100% NO3-N. From the commercial viewpoint, the produce obtained from 100% NH4-N was good, with the value-added factor of the absence of nitrate. This may be an extremely remarkable factor because of the commercial limits on the allowable nitrate content in leafy vegetables already enforced by many European countries and those the European Union is going to adopt in a directive.

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Anthony S. Aiello and William R. Graves

Amur maackia (Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim.) has potential as a more widely grown nursery crop, but little information is available on effects of media and nutrition on growth of containerized plants. We compared growth of seedlings in five media and determined growth responses to two fertility regimes. After 35 days, total dry mass of plants grown in 1 perlite: 1 vermiculite (by volume) or in 5 sphagnum peat: 3 perlite: 2 soil was 3.2 times the dry mass of plants grown in three soilless media that contained composted bark; and after 70 days, growth was greater in the medium with soil than in 1 perlite: 1 vermiculite. Plants grown in solution culture with N at 0.75 mm had 1.8 times the dry mass of those provided N at 3.75 mm. Form of N in solution did not affect dry mass, but N content of leaves of plants grown with >50% \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} was 1.3 times as great as that of plants provided only \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document}. Plants in containers attained maximal dry mass when fertilized with solutions containing N at 10.8 mm from \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document}, \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document}, and urea or N at 7.5 mm with equal amounts of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document}. None of the soilless media used consistently evoked growth similar to growth of plants in the soil-based medium.

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Chad E. Finn, Carl J. Rosen, and James J. Luby

Root sections of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. cv. Searles) were microscopically examined to document the typical anatomy of cranberry roots and changes in root anatomy in response to N-form and solution pH. Cranberry cuttings were rooted, then established in hydroponic conditions with three N and two pH regimes. The three N regimes with equal N levels were 1) NH4-N alone, 2) NH4/NO3-N in combination, or 3) NO3-N alone. pH was maintained at 4.5 or 6.5. Root apical regions were examined using phase contrast, bright field, and epifluorescence microscopy. The cranberry root tip develops with a closed apical organization with the tetrarchal vascular cylinder, cortex, and root cap traceable to independent meristem cell layers. The most obvious treatment difference was an accumulation of unidentified “granules” in the subepidermal layer, readily visible with epifluorescence microscopy with NO3-N alone. Roots produced at pH 4.5 branched less than those at 6.5 and had more “quiescent” root initials; at pH 6.5, these developed more frequently into branch roots.

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M.J. Lamb, G.H. Clough, and D.D. Hemphill Jr.

Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai `Crimson Sweet'] was seeded in a commercial peat medium in multicell containers. Five NO3: NH4 ratios and five levels of supplemental Ca were combined factorially in a 100N-31P-265K mg·liter-1 pretransplant nutrition regime. The medium was amended with CaCO3 in 1989; the medium was not amended in 1990. Dry-matter accumulation had decreased with increasing NH4-N 3 weeks after seeding both years. In 1989, increasing NH4-N also had decreased seedling growth by the last sampling date due to decreased NH+ 4 uptake. Shoot N concentration was higher in 1990 than 1989, but N uptake was similar. On the first sampling date in both years, increasing the Ca concentration decreased seedling growth and increased medium electrical conductivity (EC). In 1990, increasing the Ca concentration raised shoot N concentration but did not increase seedling growth or N uptake. Either N form at 100 mg N/liter and Ca at 4 to 8 mmol·liter-1 were optimal for watermelon transplant production, but Ca at >8 mmol·liter-1 suppressed transplant growth.

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S. Gamiely, W.M. Randle, H.A. Mills, D.A. Smittle, and G.I. Banna

Nitrogen applied as NH4-N or NO3-N (75 mg·liter-1) affected onion (AIlium cepa L.) plant growth when grown in solution culture. Nitrate alone or in combination with NH4-N increased leaf fresh and dry weight, leaf area, root fresh and dry weight, and bulb dry weight when compared to growth with NH4-N as the sole N source. Bulb fresh weight was highest with an NH4-N: NO3-N ratio between 1:3 and 3:1. Maximum leaf fresh weight was not necessary to produce maximum bulb fresh weight when onions were subjected to different N-form ratios. Precocious bulbing resulted when NH4-N was the sole N source; however, high bulbing ratios early in plant development were not correlated with final bulb fresh weight. Nitrogen form also influenced water uptake and pungency, as measured by enzymatically developed pyruvate concentration, but did not affect bulb sugar concentration.

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Paul R. Adler and Gerald E. Wilcox

Two mechanisms that reduce water and salt stress, respectively, are an increase in root hydraulic conductivity (LP) and reduction in Na and Cl absorption and transport to the leaf. NH4 +-N decreased muskmelon LP 55-70% while under 100 mM NaCl stress and 40-50% in the absence of NaCl stress. A decrease in LP increases the rate of water stress development as the transpiration rate increases. Although dry weight decreased about 70%, with NO- 3-N, muskmelon remained healthy green, while with NH+ 4-N they became chlorotic and necrotic with a 100% and 25% increase in leaf blade Na and Cl compared to NO- 3-N, respectively. Further investigation indicated that NH+ 4-N increased muskmelon sensitivity to NaCl through both an increased rate of net Na influx and transport of Na to the leaf. Since Na influx partitioning is controlled by mechanisms K/Na selectivity and exchange across membranes, the NH+ 4-N inhibition of K absorption may impair K/Na exchange mechanisms. Reduced K/Na selectivity or Na efflux are implicated as the source of the increased net Na influx with NH+ 4-N. The importance of K in preventing Na partitioning to the leaf was confined through removal of K from the nutrient solution thereby simulating the NH+ 4-N-induced gradual K depletion in muskmelon. Our work indicates that at a given level of water or NaCl stress, NO- 3-N reduces the level of stress experienced by muskmelon through increasing LP and reducing the net rate of Na influx and transport to the sensitive leaf blade. This avoidance mechanism should enable muskmelon plants fertilized with NO- 3-N to tolerate greater levels of stress.

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Paul R. Adler and Gerald E. Wilcox

Two mechanisms that reduce water and salt stress, respectively, are an increase in root hydraulic conductivity (LP) and reduction in Na and Cl absorption and transport to the leaf. NH4 +-N decreased muskmelon LP 55-70% while under 100 mM NaCl stress and 40-50% in the absence of NaCl stress. A decrease in LP increases the rate of water stress development as the transpiration rate increases. Although dry weight decreased about 70%, with NO- 3-N, muskmelon remained healthy green, while with NH+ 4-N they became chlorotic and necrotic with a 100% and 25% increase in leaf blade Na and Cl compared to NO- 3-N, respectively. Further investigation indicated that NH+ 4-N increased muskmelon sensitivity to NaCl through both an increased rate of net Na influx and transport of Na to the leaf. Since Na influx partitioning is controlled by mechanisms K/Na selectivity and exchange across membranes, the NH+ 4-N inhibition of K absorption may impair K/Na exchange mechanisms. Reduced K/Na selectivity or Na efflux are implicated as the source of the increased net Na influx with NH+ 4-N. The importance of K in preventing Na partitioning to the leaf was confined through removal of K from the nutrient solution thereby simulating the NH+ 4-N-induced gradual K depletion in muskmelon. Our work indicates that at a given level of water or NaCl stress, NO- 3-N reduces the level of stress experienced by muskmelon through increasing LP and reducing the net rate of Na influx and transport to the sensitive leaf blade. This avoidance mechanism should enable muskmelon plants fertilized with NO- 3-N to tolerate greater levels of stress.

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Ray E. Worley

Nitrogen was applied at 112 kg·ha-1 to mature 'Stuart' pecan (Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees, but the radii of the application were limited to 4.6, 6.1, 7.6, or 9.1 m. Yield, nut size, percentage of kernel, tree growth, and appearance were not affected by concentrating the N application. Leaf N was highest for the largest N application radius, but all treatments supplied abundant N. Concentrating N reduced soil pH and occasionally P, K, and Ca in the 0–15 or 15–30 cm soil layers, but all three soil nutrients and Mg were medium to high after 19 years of treatments.

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Shufu Dong, Lailiang Cheng, and L.H. Fuchigami

New roots of Malus domestica Borkh MM106 apple rootstock were divided into two categories, 1) feeder roots and 2) extension roots based on morphology and their ability to take up NH4 +, were studied. The roots were harvested in August from 1-year-old potted plants growing under natural conditions in Corvallis, Ore. Extension roots were thicker and longer than feeder roots. Average diameter and length were 0.89 and 45.29 mm for extension roots and 0.27 and 5.36 mm for feeder roots. Root special length (cm/g FW) and surface area (cm2/g FW) were 11.94 and 33.17 for extension roots and 108.97 and 93.38 for feeder roots. Maximum uptake rate, Imax, Km, and root absorption power, α (α = Imax•1/Km), for NH4 + absorption were 6.875, 0.721, and 9.48 for extension roots and 4.32, 0.276, and 15.63 for feeder roots. Feeder roots had stronger affinity to NH4 + (low Km) and higher NH4 + absorption power (high α value) than extension roots. The feeder roots were better able to uptake NH4 + at lower external solution concentrations than extension roots according to the nutrient depletion curve, which indicates feeder roots being more efficient than extension roots in nutrient absorption when NH4 + availability was low.

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Daniel C. Bowman and Jack L. Paul

The absorption and assimilation of 15N-labeled urea, (NH4)2 S O4, and KNO applied to the foliage of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) turf were examined under a controlled environment. Each source of N was dissolved in deionized water to a final concentration of 25 g N/liter and spray-applied at a rate of 5 g N/m2. Absorption of the fertilizer-N over 48 hours, as measured by 15N analysis of tissue digests, amounted to 35%, 39%, and 40% for the urea, (NH4)2 S O4, and KNO3, respectively. Absorption was also estimated by a washing procedure that measured the urea remaining on the foliage and by the increase in total N in the ryegrass tissue. There were no significant differences between the three methods for absorption of (NH4) 2SO4 and KNO3. The washing method, however, significantly overestimated absorption of urea. Partitioning of the absorbed N between tissues was similar at 48 hours for all three N sources, averaging 32% in new leaves, 52% in old leaves and shoot tissue, and 16% in the roots. Most of the absorbed urea- and NH4 -N was assimilated by 48 hours, whereas only half of the NO3 -N was reduced during that period.