Characterization and comparison of nitrate fluxes in Tamarix ramosissima and cotton roots under simulated drought conditions.

Research paper by Lin L Zhang, Guangjie G Li, Gangqiang G Dong, Meng M Wang, Dongwei D Di, Herbert J HJ Kronzucker, Weiming W Shi

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Tree physiology


Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb., a major host plant for the parasitic angiosperm Cistanche tubulosa, and known for its unique drought tolerance, has significant ecological and economic benefits. However, the mechanisms of nitrogen acquisition by the T. ramosissima root system under drought have remained uncharacterized. Here, uptake of nitrate (NO3-) in various regions of the root system was measured in T. ramosissima using Non-invasive Micro-test Technology at the cellular level, and using a 15NO3--enrichment technique at the whole-root level. These results were compared with responses in the model system cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Tamarix ramosissima had lower net NO3- influx and a significantly lower Km (the apparent Michalis-Menten constant; 8.5 μM) for NO3- uptake than cotton under normal conditions. Upon simulated drought conditions, using polyethylene glycol (PEG), NO3- flux in cotton switched from net influx to net efflux, with a substantive peak in the white zone (WZ) of the root. There were no significant NO3- influx signals observed in the WZ of T. ramosissima under control conditions, whereas PEG treatment significantly enhanced NO3- influx in the WZ of T. ramosissima. The effect of PEG application on NO3- fluxes was highly localized, and the increase in net NO3- influx in response to PEG stimulation was also found in C. tubulosa-inoculated T. ramosissima. Consistently, root nitrogen (N) content and root biomass were higher in T. ramosissima than in cotton under PEG treatment. Our study provides insights into NO3- uptake and the influence of C. tubulosa inoculation in T. ramosissima roots during acclimation to PEG-induced drought stress and provides guidelines for silvicultural practice and for breeding of T. ramosissima under coupled conditions of soil drought and N deficiency.