Ammonium effects on function and structure of nitrogen-fixing root nodules of Alnus incana (L.) Moench
Planta 1982; 156(4):332-40
Huss-Danell K, Sellstedt A, Flower-Ellis A, Sjöström M

Cloned plants of Alnus incana (L.) Moench were inoculated and grown without combined nitrogen for seven weeks. The effects of ammonium on the function and structure of the root nodules were studied by adding 20 mM NH4Cl (20 mM KCl=control) for four days. Nitrogenase activity decreased to ca. 50% after one day and to less than 10% after two days in ammonium treated plants, but was unaffected in control plants. The results were similar at photon flux densities of 200 and 50 μmol m(-2) s(-1). At the higher light level the effect was concentration dependent between 2 and 20 mM NH4Cl. The recovery was slow, and more than 11 d were needed for plants treated with 20 mM ammonium to reach initial activity. The distribution of (14)C to the root nodules after assimilation of (14)CO2 by the plants was not changed by the ammonium treatment. Microscopical studies of root nodules showed high frequencies of endophyte vesicles being visually damaged in nodules from ammonium-treated plants, but not in nodules from control plants. When nitrogenase activity was restored, visually damaged vesicles were again few, whereas young developing vesicles were numerous. The slow recovery, the (14)C-translocation pattern, and the structural changes of the endophyte indicate a more complex mechanism of ammonium influence than simply a short-term reduction in supply of carbon compounds to the nodules.

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