The combined effect of constant water deficit and nitrogen supply on WUE, NUE and Δ13C in durum wheat potted plants uri icon

abstract

  • Water scarcity and nitrogen shortage are the main constraints on durum wheat productivity. This paper examines the combined effects of a constant water deficit and nitrogen supply (NS) on growth, photosynthesis, stomatal conductance (g(s)) and transpiration, instantaneous and time-integrated water use efficiency (WUE) and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and carbon isotope discrimination (Delta C-13) in durum wheat genotypes grown in pots under greenhouse conditions. Three water levels (40%, 70% and 100% container capacity), two nitrogen doses (high and low N) and four genotypes were assayed in a total of 24 experimental treatments. Water and nitrogen treatments were imposed 2 weeks after plant emergence. The growth, nitrogen content and Delta C-13 of the shoot and the gas exchange in the flag leaf were determined about 2 weeks after anthesis. As expected, both water and NS had a strong positive effect on growth. However, a reduction in water supply had low effect decreasing photosynthesis and transpiration, Delta C-13 and NUE and increasing WUE. On the contrary, increasing the level of nitrogen supplied had a significant negative effect on g(s), which decreased significantly the ratio of intercellular to ambient CO2 concentrations and Delta C-13, and increased both instantaneous and time-integrated WUE. In addition, a higher N level also negatively affected the instantaneous and time-integrated NUE. The Delta C-13 of shoots correlated significantly and negatively with either instantaneous or time-integrated measurements of WUE. Moreover, within each NS, Delta C-13 also correlated negatively with the integrated NUE. We concluded that under our experimental conditions, Delta C-13 gives information about the efficiency with which not just water but also nitrogen are used by the plant. In addition, this study illustrates that a steady water limitation may strongly affect biomass without consistent changes in WUE. The lack of effect of the different water regimes on gas exchange, WUE and Delta C-13 illustrate the importance of how stress is imposed during growth.

publication date

  • 2007
  • 2007