AME 12:285-290 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/ame012285

Effect of plant photosynthesis, carbon sources and ammonium availability on nitrogen fixation rates in the rhizosphere of Zostera noltii

Welsh DT, Bourguès S, de Wit R, Auby I

Rates of nitrogen fixation (measured as acetylene reduction) in the rhizosphere of the seagrass Zostera noltii were highly dependent upon plant photosynthetic activity being significantly stimulated at elevated CO2 concentrations and by light, both in the short-term and over diurnal cycles. Stimulation by light became insignificant when 5 mM sucrose was added to the sediment porewater, indicating that in the absence of added carbon sources, light stimulation was due to direct inputs of plant photosynthate to the rhizosphere. Addition of a range of carbon sources to the rhizosphere sediment stimulated rates of acetylene reduction, with this stimulation being significant for sucrose and lactate. Surprisingly, whilst low additions of ammonium to the sediment porewater (10 to 50 μM) inhibited 50% of acetylene reduction activity, approximately 30% of this activity persisted in the presence of 1 mM ammonium chloride; this indicating that in at least a proportion of the N-fixing community, nitrogenase activity was not regulated in the short term by the availability of alternative nitrogen sources.


Acetylene reduction · Nitrogen fixation · Rhizosphere · Zostera noltii · Plant photosynthesis · Root exudates · Carbon sources · Ammonium


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