Seasonal pattern of net nitrogen rhizodeposition from peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) trees in soils with different textures
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Rhizodeposition plays an important role in nitrogen (N) cycling within ecosystems, but it is understudied in agroecosystems, especially in orchards. In this study, we quantified N flux from peach root to soil in two soils with different texture. Seedlings were grown for I year in sand and fertilized with (15)N-enriched ammonium nitrate. Trees were then transplanted into pots filled with a coarse-textured (CT) or a fine-textured (FT) soil with natural (15)N abundance. The isotopic mass balance technique was applied to quantify the uptake and the release of N by roots. At the end of the experimental year tree growth was 431 g tree(-1) in CT soil and 188 g tree(-1) in FT soil, and root N concentration was 0.98% in CT soil and 0.73% in FT soil. Leaf chlorophyll was always higher in trees grown in CT than in FT soil. Nitrogen uptake in CT soil was more than double that in FT soil (4471 mg tree(-1) vs. 2106 mg tree(-1)), but its allocation was not affected by soil texture (57% aboveground and 43% belowground). Nitrogen flux from roots to soil was 453 and 412 mg N tree(-1) year(-1) for trees in CT and in FT soil, respectively, 70% of which transferred in the winter. Our data suggest that root mortality is more important than root exudation in N transfer from roots to soil. Rhizodeposition was similar for both soils but tree growth was greater in CT soil than in FT soil. As a consequence, trees in FT soil allocated belowground (root biomass and rhizodeposition) a higher proportion of the absorbed N compared to trees in CT soil. Data also indicate that rhizodeposition can account for a major fraction (25-41%) of the photosynthate flux to the root system and therefore it should be considered to accurately estimate BNPP. A deeper knowledge of the belowground orchard processes is necessary to understand a balanced tree nutrient uptake. Rhizodeposition can also contribute to nutrient mobilization, heavy metal detoxification, root exploitation of soil, and drought tolerance. This work can thus provide information enabling horticulturists to develop management practices to optimise tree growth.