Differences in the influx of glutamine and nitrate into Viscum album from the xylem sap of its hosts.

Research paper by Peter P Escher, Monika M Eiblmeier, Heinz H Rennenberg

Indexed on: 12 Oct '04Published on: 12 Oct '04Published in: Plant Physiology and Biochemistry


The flux of inorganic and organic nitrogen into the mistletoe Viscum album L. from the xylem sap of a deciduous (Populus x euamericana) and a coniferous host (Abies alba Mill.) was analyzed. For this purpose, a perfusion system was developed in which the xylem sap of the host was replaced by an artificial perfusion solution. With this system flux rates into the mistletoe were determined in feeding experiments either with the organic nitrogen source [1,2-13C2]glutamine at high and the inorganic nitrogen source 15NO3- at low concentration or vice versa. Glutamine influx was already saturated at the low concentration in the xylem sap and was--different from nitrate--not enhanced, when a 250-fold higher concentration was applied. Nitrate influx matched glutamine influx only at high inorganic/organic nitrogen ratios in the perfusion solution. This result indicates a preferential influx of glutamine over nitrate from the host xylem into the mistletoe at the concentrations found in the xylem sap of trees. Surprisingly, a high percentage of both N sources were accumulated in the mistletoe stem, indicating excessive N nutrition of the mistletoe leaves. Since 13C isotope signature was significantly reduced in the outflowing perfusion solution, either an upload of organic compounds from the phloem into the xylem, or an efflux of organic compounds from haustorium of mistletoe into the xylem has to be assumed. 15N isotope signatures enriched in the outflowing perfusion solution support the idea of a nitrate uptake system at the host xylem-haustorium interface, which favors the light N isotope of nitrate.