Can nitrate-based fertilization be recommended for the cultivation of ammonium-preferring species in a salty ecosystem? The case for Spartina alterniflora

Kamel Hessini, Kaouthar Jeddi, Kadambot H.M. Siddique, Jose Fernando Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) is an indispensable mineral nutrient for plant growth and development. Proper nitrogen (N) management, in terms of quality and availability, can increase plant productivity and reduce soil N losses. This study investigated the impact of N availability (form and dose) on the growth, water relations, and nitrogen status and assimilation of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) in the presence of 200 mM NaCl. At the optimal N concentration, ammonium (NH4+) application improved biomass production and total leaf area more than nitrate (NO3) application—the leaves-free NH4+ contents remained very low and did not reach the plant toxicity threshold, while those of NO3 were low, regardless of N form. Compared to NO3, the use of NH4+ as the sole N source increased water economy. However, at low N concentration, S. alterniflora was sensitive to NH4+ deficiency. Media containing 0.25 or 0.5 mM N as NH4+ inhibited plant growth, causing general chlorosis and cell death, particularly on the lower leaves. In contrast, the response of S. alterniflora to NO3 dose did not significantly differ, indicating their preference for NH4+. The lower glutamine synthetase activity in NH4+-fed plants also suggests NH4+ tolerance. Our findings question the use of NO3-based fertilizers for species that prefer NH4+ as an N source in salt-affected soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1259
JournalArabian Journal of Geosciences
Volume14
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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