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Sagebrush carrying out hydraulic lift enhances surface soil nitrogen cycling and nitrogen uptake into inflorescences

Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of Ame, 2013 Nov 19, Vol.110(47), pp.18988-18993 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Sagebrush carrying out hydraulic lift enhances surface soil nitrogen cycling and nitrogen uptake into inflorescences
  • Author: Cardon, Zg ; Stark, Jm ; Herron, Pm ; Rasmussen, Ja
  • Found In: Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of Ame, 2013 Nov 19, Vol.110(47), pp.18988-18993 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Uplift (Geology) -- Research ; Hydrogeology -- Research ; Soil Nitrogen -- Environmental Aspects ; Sagebrushes -- Environmental Aspects
  • Language: English
  • Description: Plant roots serve as conduits for water flow not only from soil to leaves but also from wetter to drier soil. This hydraulic redistribution through root systems occurs in soils worldwide and can enhance stomatal opening, transpiration, and plant carbon gain. For decades, upward hydraulic lift (HL) of deep water through roots into dry, litter-rich, surface soil also has been hypothesized to enhance nutrient availability to plants by stimulating microbially controlled nutrient cycling. This link has not been demonstrated in the field. Working in sagebrush-steppe, where water and nitrogen limit plant growth and reproduction and where HL occurs naturally during summer drought, we slightly augmented deep soil water availability to 14 [HL.sub.+] treatment plants throughout the summer growing season. The [HL.sub.+] sagebrush lifted greater amounts of water than control plants and had slightly less negative predawn and midday leaf water potentials. Soil respiration was also augmented under [HL.sub.+] plants. At summer's end, application of a gas-based [sup.15]N isotopic labeling technique revealed increased rates of nitrogen cycling in surface soil layers around [HL.sub.+] plants and increased uptake of nitrogen into [HL.sub.+] plants' inflorescences as sagebrush set seed. These treatment effects persisted even though unexpected monsoon rainstorms arrived during assays and increased surface soil moisture around all plants. Simulation models from ecosystem to global scales have just begun to include effects of hydraulic redistribution on water and surface energy fluxes. Results from this field study indicate that plants carrying out HL can also substantially enhance decomposition and nitrogen cycling in surface soils. rhizosphere | flowering | seed production www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/ 10.1073/pnas.1311314110
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0027-8424 ; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1311314110

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