Coordinated nitrogen and carbon remobilization for nitrate assimilation in leaf, sheath and root and associated cytokinin signals during early regrowth ofLolium perenne

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Abstract

Background and Aims

The efficiency of N assimilation in response to defoliation is a critical component of plant regrowth and forage production. The aim of this research was to test the effect of the internal C/N balance on Symbol assimilation and to estimate the associated cytokinin signals following defoliation of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L. ‘Grasslands Nui’) plants.

Methods

Plants, manipulated to have contrasting internal N content and contrasting availability of water soluble carbohydrates (WSCs), were obtained by exposure to either continuous light or short days (8:16 h light-dark), and watered with modified N-free Hoagland medium containing either high (5 mM) or low (50 μM) Symbol as sole N source. Half of the plants were defoliated and the root, sheath and leaf tissue were harvested at 8, 24 and 168 h after cutting. The spatiotemporal changes in WSCs, synthesis of amino acids and associated cytokinin content were recorded after cutting.

Key Results

Leaf regrowth following defoliation involved changes in the low- and high-molecular weight WSCs. The extent of the changes and the partitioning of the WSC following defoliation were dependant on the initial WSC levels and the C and N availability. Cytokinin levels varied in the sheath and root as early as 8 h following defoliation and preceded an overall increase in amino acids at 24 h. Subsequently, negative feedback brought the amino acid response back towards pre-defoliation levels within 168 h after cutting, a response that was under control of the C/N ratio.

Conclusions

WSC remobilization in the leaf is coordinated with N availability to the root, potentially via a systemic cytokinin signal, leading to efficient N assimilation in the leaf and the sheath tissues and to early leaf regrowth following defoliation.

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