Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 610-621.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0329

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of nitrogen enrichment on root exudative carbon inputs in Sibiraea angustata shrubbery at the eastern fringe of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau

Wei HE1,2, Xue-Ying YANG3, Juan XIAO4, Zi-Liang ZHANG1,2, Zheng JIANG1,2, Yuan-Shuang YUAN1,2, Dong WANG1,2, Qing LIU1, Hua-Jun YIN1,4,*()   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China;

    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

    3Lixian Forestry Bureau, Lixian, Sichuan 623100, China
    4College of Environmental Science and Engineering, China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan 637000, China
  • Received:2017-04-05 Accepted:2016-10-21 Online:2017-07-19 Published:2017-06-10
  • Contact: Hua-Jun YIN
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims Understanding the responses of root exudative carbon (C) to increasing nitrogen deposition is important for predicting carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. However, fewer studies have investigated the dynamics of root exudation in shrubbery ecosystems compared to forests and grassland ecosystems. This objective of this study was to determine the effects of nitrogen fertilization on the rate and C flux of root exudates.Methods Three levels of nitrogen addition treatments were applied to a Sibiraea angustata shrubbery ecosystem situated at the eastern fringe of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, including N0 (without nitrogen application), N5 (nitrogen addition rate of 5 g·m-2·a-1), and N10 (nitrogen addition rate of 10 g·m-2·a-1), respectively, in 5 m ´ 5 m plots. Root exudates were collected in June, August and October of 2015, using a modified culture-based cuvette system. Root biomass in each plot was measured with root core method.Important findings The rates of root exudates on biomass, length, and surface area basis all displayed apparent seasonal variations during the experimental period, with the magnitude ranked in the order of: August > June > October, consistent with changes in soil temperature at 5 cm depth. With increases in the nitrogen addition rate, the rate of root exudates on biomass, length, and area basis all trended lower. Compared with the control (N0), the N5 and N10 treatments significantly reduced fine root biomass in the Sibiraea angustata shrubbery, by 23.36% and 33.84%, respectively. The decreasing root exudation and fine root biomass in response to nitrogen addition significantly decreased C flux of root exudates. Our results provide additional evidences toward a robust theoretical foundation for better understanding soil C-nutrient cycling process mediated by root exudation inputs in Alpine shrubbery ecosystems under various environmental changes.

Key words: Sibiraea angustata shrubbery, nitrogen addition, root exudation, root biomass, root exudation flux

Fig. 1

Schematic drawing of root exudate collection device. A, Sample injection unit. B, Collection unit. C, Suction filter unit. 1, suction flask; 2, silicone tube; 3, drying tube; 4, vacuum pump."

Table 1

Comparison of root exudative carbon (C) input rates among studies"

Plant type
Reference source
Plant species
Root exudative C input
rate per root biomass
Root exudative C input
rate per root length
Root exudative C input
rate per root surface area
草本 Herbs Personeni et al., 2007 玉米 Zea mays - - 2.10
Li & Chen, 2011 美人蕉 Canna indica 175.42 - -
风车草 Cyperus flabelliformis 220.00 - -
水鬼蕉 Hymenocallis littoralis 16.79 - -
Cheng at al., 2016 小麦 Triticum aestivum 4.07-1.19 0.056-0.012
平均值 Mean 83.50 0.03 2.10
乔木 Trees Phillips et al., 2009 火炬松 Pinus taeda 2.00-40.00 - -
Phillips et al., 2011 火炬松 Pinus taeda 8.00-17.00 0.10-6.00 -
Meier et al., 2013 火炬松 Pinus taeda 32.00 - -
Yin et al., 2013a 云杉 Picea asperata - 0.70 9.30
冷杉 Abies faxoniana - 0.50 4.90
Yin et al., 2013b 云杉 Picea asperata 663.91-414.94 0.67-0.39 7.99-5.53
Yin et al., 2014 北美鹅掌楸 Liriodendron tulipifera
糖枫 Acer saccharum
9.58 - -
北美红栎 Quercus rubra
美洲水青冈木 Fagus grandifolia
17.50 - -
Zhang et al., 2016 云杉 Picea asperata 396.76 - -
Li at al., 2014a 9年生云杉人工林
9-year-old Picea asperata
441.86 3.20 2.75
13-year-old Picea asperata
284.88 3.66 1.01
31-year-old Picea asperata
315.89 3.56 1.52
Xiao, 2013 云杉幼苗 Picea asperata seedlings 79.16 0.70 9.30
冷杉幼苗 Abies faxoniana seedlings 65.55 0.50 4.90
Qiao, 2015 云杉 Picea asperata 570.93 0.50 4.44
冷杉 Abies faxoniana 579.71 0.51 5.52
Xiong et al., 2015 杉木 Cunninghamia lanceolata 173.68-138.04 0.37-0.14 1.67-0.46
米槠 Castanopsis carlesi 92.72-56.16 0.34-0.06 1.27-0.24
平均值 Mean 203.07 1.29 4.05
灌木 Shrubs 本研究 This study 窄叶鲜卑花 Sibiraea angustata 26.22 0.02 0.29

Fig. 2

Differences in root exudative carbon (C) input rates in Sibiraea angustata shrubbery among different nitrogen fertilization treatments (mean ± SD, n = 3). A, Root exudative C input rate per root biomass. B, Root exudative C input rate per root length. C, Root exudative C input rate per root surface area. Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences (p < 0.05) among treatments on a given sampling date. Three nitrogen addition levels: N0 (0 g·m-2·a-1), N5 (5 g·m-2·a-1), N10 (10 g·m-2·a-1)."

Table 2

Summary of repeated measures ANOVA showing the p values for responses of root exudative carbon (C) input rates of Sibiraea angustata shrubbery to nitrogen (N) fertilization and sampling date"

N fertilization
Sampling date
Sampling date × N fertilization
单位根生物量根系分泌物C输入速率 Root exudative C input rates per root biomass <0.001 <0.001 0.255
单位根长根系分泌物C输入速率 Root exudative C input rates per root length <0.001 0.019 0.844
单位根表面积根系分泌物C输入速率 Root exudative C input rates per root surface area <0.001 <0.001 <0.001

Fig. 3

Correlation analysis between root exudative carbon (C) input rate per root biomass and soil temperature at 5 cm depth. Three nitrogen addition levels: N0 (0 g·m-2·a-1), N5 (5 g·m-2·a-1), N10 (10 g·m-2·a-1)."

Fig. 4

Changes in fine root biomass in Sibiraea angustata shrubbery under different nitrogen fertilization treatments (mean ± SD, n = 3). Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences among treatments on a given sampling date (p < 0.05). Three nitrogen addition levels: N0 (0 g·m-2·a-1), N5 (5 g·m-2·a-1), N10 (10 g·m-2·a-1)."

Table 3

Root exudative carbon (C) flux in Sibiraea angustata shrubbery under different nitrogen (N) fertilization treatments (mean ± SD, n = 3)"

Root exudative C input rate per root biomass (mg·g-1·d-1)
Fine root biomass (g·m-2)
C flux of root exudates (g·m-2·a-1)
N0 0.68 ± 0.02a 169.17 ± 47.83a 16.89 ± 0.31a
N5 0.57 ± 0.04b 129.65 ± 81.71b 9.58 ± 0.24b
N10 0.36 ± 0.02c 111.93 ± 58.49c 5.81 ± 0.12c

Table 4

Changes in nitrate nitrogen and ammonium nitrogen under different nitrogen fertilization treatments (mean ± SD, n = 3)"

2015-06 2015-08 2015-10
NO3--N (mg·kg-1) NH4+-N (mg·kg-1) NO3--N (mg·kg-1) NH4+-N (mg·kg-1) NO3--N (mg·kg-1) NH4+-N (mg·kg-1)
N0 20.88 ± 0.91a 7.44 ± 0.16a 23.92 ± 0.23a 8.66 ± 0.54a 25.88 ± 0.83a 7.63 ± 0.28a
N5 22.19 ± 0.71a 12.57 ± 0.64b 24.51 ± 0.31a 13.21 ± 0.27b 26.21 ± 0.24a 12.42 ± 0.59b
N10 30.38 ± 0.71b 14.29 ± 0.85b 28.98 ± 0.65b 16.18 ± 0.56b 29.38 ± 0.17b 13.94 ± 0.71b

Fig. 5

Changes in total soil microbial phospholipid fatty acid (PLFAs) under different nitrogen fertilization treatments (mean ± SD, n = 3). Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences (p < 0.05) among treatments on a given sampling date. Three nitrogen addition levels: N0 (0 g·m-2·a-1), N5 (5 g·m-2·a-1), N10 (10 g·m-2·a-1)."

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