Translocation of nitrogen in the xylem of field-grown cherry and poplar trees during remobilization

Peter Millard, Renate Wendler, Giacomo Grassi, Gwen-Aelle Grelet, Massimo Tagliavini

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of small trees growing in pots have established that individual amino acids or amides are translocated in the xylem sap of a range of tree species following bud burst, as a consequence of nitrogen (N) remobilization from storage. This paper reports the first study of N translocation in the xylem of large, deciduous, field-grown trees during N remobilization in the spring. We applied N-15 fertilizer to the soil around 10-year-old Prunus avium L. and Populus trichocharpa Torr. & Gray ex Hook var. Hastata (Dode) A. Henry x Populus balsamifera L. var. Michauxii (Dode) Farwell trees before bud burst to label N taken up by the roots. Recovery of unlabeled N in xylem sap and leaves was used to demonstrate that P. avium remobilizes N in both glutamine (Gin) and asparagine (Asn). Sap concentrations of both amides rose sharply after bud burst, peaking 14 days after bud burst for Gin, and remaining high some 45 days for Asn. There was no N-15 enrichment of either amide until 21 days after bud burst. In the Populus trees, nearly all the N was translocated in the sap as Gin, the concentration of which peaked and then declined before the amide was enriched with N-15 40 days after bud burst. Xylem sap of clonal P avium trees was sampled at different positions in the crown to assess if the amino acid and amide composition of the sap varied within the crown. Sap was sampled during remobilization (when the concentration of Gin was maximal), at the end of remobilization and at the end of the experiment (68 days after bud burst). Although the date of sampling had a highly significant effect on sap composition, the effect of position of sampling was marginal. The results are discussed in relation to N translocation in adult trees and the possibility of measuring N remobilization by calculating the flux of N translocation in the xylem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-536
Number of pages10
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jan 2006
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • amides
  • amino acids
  • internal cycling of N
  • 15N labeling
  • populus
  • prunus
  • xylem sap


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