Tree leaf biomarkers for atmospheric nitrogen deposition

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

March, S., Miller, A. J., Zhang, X-H. and Pearson, J. 2004. Tree leaf biomarkers for atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution: Focus. 4 (6), pp. 241-250.

AuthorsMarch, S., Miller, A. J., Zhang, X-H. and Pearson, J.

The aim of this paper was to investigate the effects of nitrogen (N) deposition on tree N cycling and identify potential biomarkers forNdeposition. Between April and October 2002 extensive fieldwork was undertaken at Mardley Heath in Hertfordshire. This woodland, located adjacent to the A1(M) motorway, is exposed to high levels of atmospheric nitrogen oxides from the traffic. Measurements of δ15N, in vivo nitrate reductase (NR) activity, tissue, xylem and surface nitrate concentrations as well as N concentration and growth were made along a 700-m transect at 90° to the motorway. The δ15N data show that oxidised N from the road traffic is taken up by nearby trees and is incorporated into plant tissues. Our measurements of NR activities suggest elevated rates close to the motorway. However, xylem sap, leaf tissue and leaf surface nitrate concentrations showed no differences between the roadside location and the most distant sampling point from the motorway. Taken together the δ15N and nitrate reductase data suggest uptake and assimilation of N through the foliage.We conclude that for this lowland deciduouswoodland, tissue, xylem and surface measurements of nitrate are unreliable biomarkers for N deposition whereas δ15N, growth measurements and integrated seasonal NR might be useful. The results also point to the benefit of roadside tree planting to screen pollution from motor vehicles.

KeywordsCrataegus monogyna; nitrate reductase; nitrogen pollution; total nitrogen; Sambucus nigra
Year of Publication2004
JournalWater, Air, & Soil Pollution: Focus
Journal citation4 (6), pp. 241-250
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or code502
The cell biology of nitrogen acquisition and allocation
Output statusPublished

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