Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (10): 1069-1080.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0048

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry in leaves and fine roots of dominant plants in Horqin Sandy Land

Zhi-Ying NING1,2, Yu-Lin LI1,*(), Hong-Ling YANG1,2, Dian-Chao SUN2,3, Jing-Dong BI1   

  1. 1Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resource, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China

    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Online:2017-10-10 Published:2017-12-24
  • Contact: Yu-Lin LI


Aims The stoichiometric characteristics of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in plant organism is vital to understand plant adaptation to environment. In particular, the correlations of elemental stoichiometric characteristics between leaf and fine root could provide insights into the interaction and balance among the plant elements, nutrient use strategies and plant response to global change.Methods We measured C, N, P contents and C:N, C:P, N:P in leaves and fine roots of 60 dominant plants in Horqin sandy land. The 60 plant species were classified into five life forms and two categories such as perennial forb, annual forb, perennial grass, annual grass, shrub, legume, and non-legume. We statistically analyzed the differences and correlations of C, N and P stoichiometry either between fine root and leaf or among five life forms.Important findings The average C, N and P concentrations in leaves of 60 plant species in Horqin sandy land are 424.20 mg·g-1, 25.60 mg·g-1 and 2.10 mg·g-1, respectively. In fine roots, the corresponding element concentrations are 434.03 mg·g-1, 13.54 mg·g-1, 1.13 mg·g-1. N and P concentrations in leaf are approximately twice as high as averages in fine root. Furthermore, similar N:P between leaf and fine root indicates conservative characteristic of elemental stoichiometry in plant organism, suggesting that nutrients distribution is proportional between aboveground and underground of plants. There are significant difference of C, N, P, C:N, C:P and N:P in leaf and root among five life forms. N and P in forb and C:N and C:P in grass are averagely higher than those in other life forms. N:P in annual forb and grass, however, are lower than those in other life forms. C, N in legume are higher than those in non-legume, while C:N in legume is lower than in non-legume. These results imply that nutrient use strategies are significantly different among plant life forms. Correlations analysis showed that N and P in leaf or fine root positively correlated, but C and N, C and P in fine root negatively correlated, suggesting coupling relationship among C, N and P in leaf and fine root. Subsequently, we detected positively significant correlations in C, N, P and their ratios between leaf and fine root, suggesting proportional distribution of photosynthate and nutrient between aboveground and underground during plant growth. Generally, these results supplied fundamental data to understand mass turnover and nutrients cycling of leaves and roots in sand land.

Key words: sandy grassland, ecological stoichiometry, life form, roots, nutrient