Growth responses, biomass partitioning, nitrogen isotopes of prairie legumes in response to elevated temperature and varying nitrogen source in a growth chamber experiment

Heather R. Whittington, Laura Deede, Jennifer S. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Premise of the Study: Because legumes can add nitrogen (N) to ecosystems through symbiotic fi xation, they play important roles in many plant communities, such as prairies and grasslands. However, very little research has examined the effect of projected climate change on legume growth and function. Our goal was to study the effects of temperature on growth, nodulation, N chemistry of prairie legumes and determine whether these effects are mediated by source of N. Methods: We grew seedlings of Amorpha canescens, Dalea purpurea, Lespedeza capitata, Lupinus perennis at 25/20°C (day/night) or 28/23°C with and without rhizobia and mineral N in controlled-environment growth chambers. Biomass, leaf area, nodule number and mass, shoot N concentration and δ15 N values were measured after 12 wk of growth. Key Results: Both temperature and N-source affected responses in a species-specifi c manner. Lespedeza showed increased growth and higher shoot N content at 28°C. Lupinus showed decreases in nodulation and lower shoot N concentration at 28°C. The effect of temperature on shoot N concentration occurred only in individuals whose sole N source was N2-fi xation, but there was no effect of temperature on δ15 N values in these plants. Conclusions: Elevated temperature enhanced seedling growth of some species, while inhibiting nodulation in another. Temperature-induced shifts in legume composition or nitrogen dynamics may be another potential mechanism through which climate change affects unmanaged ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-846
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Volume99
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Keywords

  • Amorpha canescens
  • Dalea purpurea
  • Elevated temperature
  • Legumes
  • Lespedeza capitata
  • Lupinus perennis
  • Nitrogen source
  • Nodulation
  • δN signatures

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