For a Better Understanding of the Effect of N Form on Growth and Chemical Composition of C3 Vascular Plants under Elevated CO2—A Case Study with the Leafy Vegetable Eruca sativa

By Lilian Schmidt and Jana Zinkernagel*

Plant responses to elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) are well studied, but the interactions of the carbon and nitrogen metabolism in the process are still not fully revealed. This is especially true for the role of nitrogen forms and their assimilation by plants under eCO2. This study investigated the interacting metabolic processes of atmospheric CO2 levels and N form in the short-term crop arugula. The effects on physiological processes and their consequences for crop growth, yield and nutritional value were elucidated. Two varieties of arugula were grown in climate cabinets under 400 or 800 ppm CO2, respectively. The plants were fertilized with either pure nitrate or ammonium-dominated-N. Photosynthetic CO2 assimilation increased in response to eCO2 regardless of the N form. This did not affect the assimilation of nitrate and consequently had no impact on the biomass of the plants. The extra photosynthates were not invested into the antioxidative compounds but were probably diverted towards the leaf structural compounds, thereby increasing dry mass and “diluting” several mineral elements. The fertilization of arugula with ammonium-dominated N had little benefits in terms of crop yield and nutritional quality. It is therefore not recommended to use ammonium-dominated N for arugula production under future elevated CO2 levels.

The full article appeared on the Horticulturae website at https://www.mdpi.com/2311-7524/7/8/251/htm

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