- Research article
- Open Access
Interactive effects of nitrogen and potassium on photosynthesis and photosynthetic nitrogen allocation of rice leaves
BMC Plant Biology volume 19, Article number: 302 (2019)
Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are two important mineral nutrients in regulating leaf photosynthesis. Studying the interactive effects of N and K on regulating N allocation and photosynthesis (Pn) of rice leaves will be of great significance for further increasing leaf Pn, photosynthetic N use efficiency (PNUE) and grain yield. We measured the gas exchange of rice leaves in a field experiment and tested different kinds of leaf N based on N morphology and function, and calculated the interactive effects of N and K on N allocation and the PNUE.
Compared with N0 (0 kg N ha− 1) and K0 (0 kg K2O ha− 1) treatments, the Pn was increased by 17.1 and 12.2% with the supply of N and K. Compared with N0K0 (0 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1), N0K120 (0 kg N and 120 kg K2O ha− 1) and N0K180 (0 kg N and 180 kg K2O ha− 1), N supply increased the absolute content of photosynthetic N (Npsn) by 15.1, 15.5 and 10.5% on average, and the storage N (Nstore) was increased by 32.7, 64.9 and 72.7% on average. The relative content of Npsn was decreased by 5.6, 12.1 and 14.5%, while that of Nstore was increased by 8.7, 27.8 and 33.8%. Supply of K promoted the transformation of Nstore to Npsn despite the leaf N content (Na) was indeed decreased. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 (180 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1) and N270K0 (270 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1), K supply increased the relative content of Npsn by 17.7, 8.8 and 7.3%, and decreased the relative content of Nstore by 24.2, 11.4 and 8.7% respectively.
This study indicated the mechanism that K supply decreased the Na but increased the Npsn content and then increased leaf Pn and PNUE from a new viewpoint of leaf N allocation. The supply of K promoted the transformation of Nstore to Npsn and increased the PNUE. The decreased Nstore mainly resulted from the decrease of non-protein N. Combined use of N and K could optimize leaf N allocation and maintain a high leaf Npsn content and PNUE.
Nitrogen (N) is one of the most important nutrients that limit the growth of plants. The economics of N use in photosynthesis has become a research hotspot in the past several decades and has continued to this day . Leaves accumulated most of N in plant and as much as three quarters of leaf N was invested into photosynthetic apparatus, which was the largest N sink in plant [2,3,4]. It was reported that there was strong positive correlation between photosynthetic rate (Pn) and leaf N content [5,6,7,8]. The leaf photosynthesis was largely controlled by the supply and demand of leaf N content. The ratio between Pn and leaf N content defines the photosynthetic N use efficiency (PNUE) as the amount of CO2 fixed by per unit of leaf N, which was varied as a function of leaf N content [4, 9]. There were different forms of N in leaves, like nitrates, amino acids and protein in soluble components, cell walls, membranes and other structures in insoluble components. Different species had different patterns of N allocation to various components contain N, and these differences caused the disparity in Pn and PNUE between species. Makino et al.  indicated that there were significant differences between C3 plants (such as rice) with C4 plants (such as maize) on leaf N allocation and PNUE. The soluble protein in maize (33%) was significantly lower than that in rice (50%), by contrast, the insoluble N in maize (53%) was appreciably higher than that in rice (37%) . Takashima et al.  indicated that evergreen species had smaller N allocation to photosynthetic apparatus and smaller PNUE than that of deciduous species. Evergreen species allocated two-fold more N to SDS (3% sodium dodecyl sulfate)-soluble proteins than that of deciduous species, which indicated that evergreen species allocated more N to cell wall than deciduous species to maintain a long leaf lifespan. Onoda et al.  reported that plants germinated later had a higher PNUE than that germinated earlier, which was attributed to a larger N allocation to ribulose 1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Early germinator leaves invested more N to cell wall to produce structurally tough leaves and maintain a long photosynthesis period, which was at the expense of lower allocation of N to Rubisco, lower Pn and lower PNUE. Ellsworth et al.  indicated that the leaf N allocated to Rubisco declined with the increase of structural N. A research on the N allocation of Ageratina adenophora showed that the invasive plants allocated 13.0% more leaf N to photosynthesis and had 24.4% higher Pn and 20.2% higher PNUE that that of native plants, and there was no significant differences between leaf total N content . Also as expected, invasive plants allocated 45.2% lower cell wall protein content, 37.8% lower ratio of cell wall protein to leaf total protein, and 46.5% lower ratio of leaf N allocated to cell wall .
The variations in leaf N allocation was not only determined by the inherent characteristics but also influenced by the environment. Previous studies did some research on the N allocation for key photosynthetic enzymes and mainly focus on the environment factors, such as light condition, temperature, CO2 concentration and so on. Hikosaka and Terashima  developed a model to summarize the different roles of all photosynthetic components and predicted a highlight would promote the allocation of leaf N to Calvin cycle enzymes and electron carriers. Low light resulted in relatively even N allocation to light harvesting and carbon assimilation. The shade leaves had a 1:1 ratio of soluble protein and membrane-bound protein while sun leaves had 2–3 times more soluble protein than membrane-bound protein . Xu et al.  built a complete N allocation model that simultaneously considers N allocation to light capture, electron transport, carboxylation, respiration and storage, and also including the different responses to the altered environment conditions such as CO2 concentration, temperature and radiation. The results indicated that the increase of temperature from 15 to 20 °C decreased about 10% of the N allocation to carboxylation. The increase of CO2 concentration from 370 to 570 μmol mol− 1 could decrease about 15% of the N allocated to carboxylation. The decrease of radiation from 800 to 400 μmol m− 2 s− 1 had small effect on N allocation to carboxylation for deciduous and evergreen trees but decreased about 10% of that for herbaceous plants. Meanwhile, the lower radiation decreased the storage N and as compensation, N allocated to light capture was increased.
As two major important macro-elements, the application of N and potassium (K) could significantly increase the Pn of rice leaves. Frak et al.  and Oguchi et al.  indicated that supply of N and N allocation could play important role in leaves photosynthetic acclimation exposed to increased irradiance. Niedz and Evens revealed that NH4+ and K+ exhibit strong synergistic blending on the growth of nonembryogenic and embryogenic tissue of sweet orange . The leaf K content could be significantly increased for the supply of K while the leaf N content was significantly decreased at the same time . However, the supply of K could further improve the Pn, even though the leaf N content was significantly decreased . Based on the previous studies on N allocation, we assumed that the supply of K could also affect the allocation of leaf N and did a field trial in 2016 to study the interactive effects of N and K on N allocation of rice leaves. To the best of our knowledge, few studies have been conducted on leaf N allocation with the interaction of N and K and the underlying physiological mechanism of N and K effects on Pn and PNUE remains unclear. The objectives of our study were as follows: (1) to assess the effects of N and K on the leaf Pn and PNUE; (2) to uncover the different effects of N and K on the allocation of leaf N; (3) to explain the phenomenon how does the supply of K increased the Pn while decreased the leaf N content from the angle of photosynthetic N allocation.
Leaf morphological and physiological traits
The results indicated that leaf morphological and physiological traits including leaf dry mass and area, chlorophyll content, N content (Na) and K content (Ka) were significantly influenced by the interaction effects of N and K (Table 1). Compared with N0 (0 kg N ha− 1) and K0 (0 kg K2O ha− 1) treatments, the application of N and K significantly increased the leaf dry mass per plant by 91.3 and 19.3% on average, and the leaf area per plant was increased by 77.9 and 36.6% on average, respectively. Compared with N0K0 (0 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1), the leaf dry mass and leaf area per plant of N270K120 (270 kg N and 120 kg K2O ha− 1) was increased by 178.5 and 183.7% respectively, which had the maximum increase rate. The leaf chlorophyll content and Na was significantly increased by 15.5 and 27.3% on average with the supply of N, while that was decreased by 15.0 and 7.0% on average for the supply of K. The leaf Ka was decreased by 16.1% with the supply of N, while that was increased by 14.6% for the supply of K.
The leaf photosynthetic rate (Pn) was significantly influenced by N, K and their interaction effects (Fig. 1). Compared with N0 and K0 treatments, the application of N and K significantly increased the Pn by 17.1 and 12.2% on average. Compared with N0K0, the Pn of N270K180 (270 kg N and 180 kg K2O ha− 1) was increased by 32.6%, which had the maximum increase rate.
Nitrogen allocation by function
Interactive effects of N and K on leaf N allocation by function was shown in Fig. 2. The Na was significantly increased with the supply of N while significantly decreased with the supply of K. Compared with N0 and K0 treatment, the Na was increased by 27.5% for the supply of N and decreased by 6.8% for the supply of K. The results also indicated that the increase of N significantly increased the absolute content (g m− 2) (outside of the bracket) of photosynthetic N (Npsn) and storage N (Nstore). However, the relative content (%) (in the bracket) of Npsn was decreased with the increase of N rate, while that of Nstore was increased with the increase of N rate. Compared with N0K0, N0K120 (0 kg N and 120 kg K2O ha− 1) and N0K180 (0 kg N and 180 kg K2O ha− 1), the supply of N increased the absolute content of Npsn by 15.1, 15.5 and 10.5% on average, and that of Nstore was increased by 32.7, 64.9 and 72.7% on average, respectively. The relative content of Npsn was decreased by 5.6, 12.1 and 14.5%, while that of Nstore was increased by 8.7, 27.8 and 33.8%.
Both the absolute and relative content of Npsn were significantly increased with the supply of K. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 (180 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1) and N270K0 (270 kg N and 0 kg K2O ha− 1), the supply of K increased the absolute content of Npsn by 4.5, 2.8 and 2.4%, and the relative content of Npsn was increased by 17.7, 8.8 and 7.3% on average, respectively. Both the absolute and relative content of Nstore were significantly decreased with the supply of K. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, the supply of K decreased the absolute content of Nstore by 32.8, 16.6 and 12.9%, and the relative content of Nstore was decreased by 24.2, 11.4 and 8.7% on average, respectively.
Correlation matrix between the different N morphologies with the Na showed that Nstore and Npsn had significant positive correlation with Na (Fig. 3).
Photosynthetic nitrogen allocation
There was high active relationship between the Npsn content and Pn (Fig. 4). Interactive effects of N and K on Npsn allocation were shown in Fig. 5. The results indicated that the increase of N rate significantly increased the absolute content (g m− 2) (outside of the bracket) of carboxylation N (Ncb), light capture N (Nlc), and Non-Npsn, while decreased the absolute content of electron transfer N (Net). However, the relative content (%) (in the bracket) of Ncb, Nlc and Net was decreased with the increase of N rate, while that of Non-Npsn was increased with the increase of N rate. Compared with N0K0, N0K120 and N0K180, the supply of N increased the absolute content of Ncb by 17.0, 19.4 and 14.0%, and that of Nlc was increased by 16.7, 13.2 and 5.7%, and that of Net was increased by 5.7, 5.0 and 3.8%, and that of Non-Npsn was increased by 11.8, 34.4 and 53.0% on average, respectively.
Both the absolute and relative content of Ncb and Net were significantly increased with the supply of K. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, the supply of K increased the absolute content of Ncb by 11.1, 10.4 and 10.9% respectively, and the relative content of Ncb was increased by 29.1, 20.1 and 18.6% on average. The absolute content of Net was increased by 8.6, 6.9 and 7.5%, and the relative content of Net was increased by 26.4, 16.3 and 14.6% on average, respectively. Both the absolute and relative content of Nlc and Non-Npsn were significantly decreased with the supply of K. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, the supply of K decreased the absolute content of Nlc by 11.5, 15.7 and 18.0%, and the relative content of Nlc was decreased by 2.6, 8.6 and 12.7% on average, respectively. The absolute content of Non-Npsn was decreased by 37.3, 22.7 and 17.4%, and the relative content of Net was decreased by 27.5, 16.0 and 11.9% on average, respectively.
The correlation analyses showed that were high active relationships between the Ncb and Nlc with Pn (Fig. 6).
Photosynthetic N use efficiency
The supply of N and K had opposite effects on photosynthetic N use efficiency (PNUE) (Fig. 7). The PNUE decreased with the supply of N and increased with the supply of K. Compared with N0K0, N0K120 and N0K180, N supply under three K rates decreased the PNUE by 16.2, 8.9 and 15.3% on average, respectively. Compared with N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, K supply under three N rates increased the PNUE by 16.9, 27.1 and 17.2% respectively.
As is well documented, the deficiency of N and K caused stunted leaf development and plant growth by reducing the Pn [9, 21,22,23,24]. The reduction in leaf area could maintain a relative high leaf N content and contribute to the maintenance of Pn [25, 26]. Under the experimental conditions of our study, the N and K deficiency caused a reduction of leaf dry mass by 43.3 and 22.1%, and leaf area was reduced by 77.9 and 36.6% respectively. The Na was decreased by 21.8% for the deficiency of N but increased by 6.4% for the deficiency of K, which indicated that the supply of K could further decrease the Na. Previous studies also showed that the supply of K profoundly reduced the NH4+ cycling at the plasma membrane and diminished the excessive rates of unidirectional influx and efflux [27,28,29]. However, compared with the N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, the supply of K increased the Pn by 9.9, 12.3 and 12.0% respectively. Based on our original assumption that the supply of K could influence the leaf N allocation, what happened to the leaf N allocation? Compared with N0K0, N180K0 and N270K0, the supply of K increased the relative content of Npsn by 17.7, 8.8 and 7.3%, while the relative content of Nstore was decreased by 24.2, 11.4 and 8.7% on average, respectively. It could be clearly that the Npsn content was increased with the supply of K, even though the Na was decreased. The increase of Npsn showed significant active correlation with Pn (Fig. 4). Previous studies had also reported the significant active correlations between Npsn with Pn [30, 31]. Under low N stress, leaf tended to invest more N into Net to sustain the electron transport, which was consisting with the previous study on maize . In contrast, high N promoted more N allocated to Rubisco and increased the Rubisco content, which was generally recognized as the most important reasons for the low PNUE under high N treatment [32,33,34]. In studies of physiological mechanisms of leaf PNUE, Rubisco has been focused upon for the key enzyme of photosynthesis and occupied much N in leaf . It has been shown that species with a higher PNUE allocate more N to Rubisco [4, 35, 36]. Thus N allocation to photosynthetic proteins is one responsible reason for variation of PNUE. Supply of K increased leaf K content, but deceased the leaf N/K ratio, which had significant negative correlation with PNUE (Additional file 1: Figure S1). It indicated that the PNUE could be reduced with an appropriate reduction of leaf N/K, whether through decreasing N rate or increasing K rate.
As explained in the material method, Nstore was defined as the Na minus Nstr, Nrep and Npsn. The Nstore was assumed to be used in new tissues synthesis and metabolic enzymes photosynthesis products, which was including inorganic N, amino acid and some other proteins . The same to stored carbohydrates, Nstore could also promote plant growth and survival under reduced soil N availability . Based on equation 10 and Additional file 2: Figure S2, we not only got that the total leaf Nstore was decreased with the increase of K, but also clearly saw that the decreased Nstore was resulted from the significantly decrease of Nnp.
The model used in this study helped us better understand the mechanism of N limitation upon leaf Pn and leaf N allocation with the interactive effects of N and K. The supply of N increased the leaf total N content and the absolute content of Npsn and Nstore. The relative content of Nstore was increased while the Npsn was decreased with the supply of N, which means a greater proportion of leaf N was allocated to Nstore. The supply of K decreased the absolute and relative content of Nstore, but increased the absolute and relative content of Npsn. There was high active relationship between the Npsn content and Npsn (Fig. 4), which indicated the importance of Npsn to Npsn. Our findings highlights the need for further comparative research on the interaction of N and K, which could further improve the leaf Pn, PNUE and grain yield of rice by optimizing leaf N allocation.
Indeed, the ear and sheath are also believed to play significant roles as sources of photosynthesis in addition to leaf [38,39,40,41]. Maize develops dimorphic chloroplasts which reside separately in sheath and mesophyll cells and cooperate to complete photosynthesis . Chloroplast in sheath cells develop parallel lamellae with accumulated starch and diffuse grana, while the chloroplast in mesophyll cells develop thick grana . In addition, the sheath and leaf showed different photosynthesis intensities for the different anatomical structures . So, we assume that the mechanism of N and K on N allocation maybe different among different organs. Based on the results of this research, effects of N and K rates on sheath N allocation should be studied in future, which would be helpful to further understand the mechanism of N and K rates on crop photosynthesis. In addition to this, previous studies also showed that the N allocation was affected by methyl jasmonate [44, 45]. The methyl jasmonate reduced the expression of the chlorophyll biosynthesis genes like OsZIP1 and OsUPD2, down-regulated two chlorophyll biosynthesis-related proteins, four light-harvesting complex chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins and Rubisco small subunit, which indicated that the methyl jasmonate inhibited the photosynthesis via decreased of chlorophyll and photosynthesis-associated proteins . However, the molecular mechanism of leaf N allocation under the interaction of N and K is still unclear.
The present study demonstrated that N supply increased the Na, Nstore and Npsn content, but decreased the relative content of Npsn, which indicated more leaf N was allocated into non-photosynthetic N with the increase of N rates. K supply did decrease the Na but increased the Npsn content and then increased leaf Pn. The supply of K promoted the transformation of Nstore to Npsn and increased the leaf PNUE. The decreased Nstore mainly resulted from the decrease of non-protein N with the increase of K rates. From this new viewpoint of leaf N allocation, combined use of N and K could optimize the leaf N allocation and improve the Npsn content, and maintain relative high leaf Pn and PNUE. Taken together, these results contribute a further understanding of interaction between N and K, and the responses of leaf N allocation to different N and K rates.
The field trial was conducted from May to October in 2016 in Wuxue county (30°06′46″N, 115°36′9″E), Hubei province, central China. The experimental site was located in the subtropical monsoon climate zone, where the average temperature and total precipitation during the rice growing season was 27.7 °C and 1118.3 mm. The soil properties in 0–20 cm deep soil layer were as follows: pH 5.8 (soil/water = 1:2.5), 32.1 g kg− 1 organic matter, 1.8 g kg− 1 total N, 13.4 mg kg− 1 Olsen-P, 44.5 mg kg− 1 readily available K, and 302.5 mg kg− 1 slowly available K.
It was a complete randomized block field experiment with three N and three K rates. Three N treatments were 0 (N0), 180 (N180), and 270 kg N ha− 1 (N270). Three K treatments were 0 (K0), 120 (K120), and 180 kg K2O ha− 1 (K180). The N fertilizer was applied in three doses: 50, 25 and 25% as transplanting (1 day before transplanting), tillering (8 days after transplanting) and booting (56 days after transplanting) fertilizer respectively. All treatments were supplied with 90 kg P2O5 ha− 1 and applied as transplanting fertilizer. The K fertilizer was applied in two doses: 75 and 25% as transplanting and booting fertilizer. Urea (46% N), superphosphate (12% P2O5) and potassium chloride (60% K2O) were used as the N, P and K fertilizer sources.
The area of each plot was 20 m2 (4 m × 5 m). All treatments were repeated three times in the field. All plots were plowed and leveled after the application of transplanting fertilizer.
Seeds of Oryza sativa L. ssp. japonica (Shenliangyou 5814, Hunan Ava Seeds Co., Ltd., China) were sown on May 22 and transplanted on June 29 with the same hill space (24 cm × 15 cm). Soil bunds between different plots were covered with plastic film to prevent the exchange of water and fertilizer. All treatments received the same fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, and no obvious diseases, pests or weeds were present during the rice growing season. The grain yield was determined on October 1, 2016.
Gas exchange measurement
The flag leaf gas exchange was measured using a Li-6400XT portable photosynthesis system (Li-Cor, Inc., USA) at stem elongation stage (52 days after transplanting). The cuvette conditions were 1200 μmol m− 2 s− 1 photosynthetic photon flux density, 400 μmol m− 2 s− 1 CO2 in the leaf chamber (Ca), 500 μmol s− 1 flow rate, 60% relative humidity, and 30.0 °C of the temperature respectively.
The Pn − Ci (Ci is the CO2 concentration in leaf internal air space) curves were measured. The Ca was set stepwise from 400 to 300, 200, 100, 50, and thento 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200 and 1500 μmol mol− 1. The maximum rate of Rubisco-catalyzed carboxylation rate (Vc,max) and the maximum rate of electron transport rate (Jmax) were calculated as defined by Long and Bernacchi .
Leaf discs were created with a 5 mm diameter punch (the midvein was avoided) after the measurement of photosynthesis. Ten discs were weighed and stored at − 80 °C. The rest of leaf samples were desiccated at 105 °C for 0.5 h and then dried at 65 °C to constant weight. Three representative hills were sampled from each plot directly at the same time. The leaves of each plant were cut off, and the leaf area was measured using Image-Pro Plus 6.0 software (Media Cybernetics, Silver Spring, MD, USA).
Nitrogen allocation by morphology
The frozen leaf discs were used to measure the different forms of N (Fig. 8) . Leaf samples were powdered in liquid N using a chilled mortar and pestle and homogenized with 1 ml of 100 mM phosphate buffer saline (PBS, pH was 7.5) and decanted it into a 10 ml centrifuge tube. The pestle and mortar were washed with 1 ml phosphate buffer and decanted into the same centrifuge tube, and repeated that for four times. The supernatant (water-soluble protein, Nw) was separated after a 15-min centrifugation at 15000 g and 4 °C. 1 ml of phosphate buffer containing 3% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was added to the centrifuge tube with leaf sample and heat up for five minutes in constant temperature water at 90 °C. The supernatants (SDS-soluble protein, Ns) was collected in a new centrifuge tube after a 10-min centrifugation at 4500 g and repeated that for six times. The residual sample (SDS-insoluble protein, Nin-SDS) was washed by ethanol and filtered with quantitative paper. Equal volume of 20% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) was added to the supernatant to denature the protein. The precipitate was filtered with quantitative paper and washed by ethanol. Three kinds of N were dried and digested with H2SO4-H2O2, and the same to the dried leaf discs, which was used to determine the leaf total N . Non-protein N (Nnp) in leaf (inorganic N and N-containing small molecules like amino acids) was the leaf totals N subtract the upper three kinds of N (Fig. 9).
Nitrogen allocation by function
According to the mechanistic model of leaf utilization of N for assimilation [17, 48], leaf N consisted of photosynthetic N (Npsn), respiration N (Nresp, respiratory enzymes located in mitochondrial matrix), structural N (Nstr, used to build cell walls) and storage N (Nstore, N stored in plant tissues but not participated in any metabolic processes or structural components) (Fig. 9). The Npsn could also be divided into three different parts: proteins for carboxylation in the Calvin cycle (Ncb), proteins for light capture in PSI, PSII, and other light-harvesting pigment protein complexes (Nlc), and proteins involved in electron transport (Net). Here are the calculation equations for different kinds of N in leaf.
where 6.25 is the N conversion coefficient into Rubisco (g Rubisco g− 1 leaf N) , Vcr is 20.8 umol CO2 g− 1 Rubisco s− 1 at 25 °C , fVc,max is a correction coefficient for Vc,max and it is 0.361 at 35 °C.
where Cchl is the chlorophyll content (mmol m− 2), CB is the ratio of chlorophyll to organic N in light harvesting components (2.15 mmol g− 1) .
where Rt is the leaf respiration rate (μmol CO2 m− 2 s− 1) that calculated based on Vc, max , 33.69 is the leaf N use efficiency for respiration at 25 °C (μmol CO2 g− 1 N s− 1) , fr is the respiration correction coefficient and it is 0.561.
The remaining fraction after the remove of Npsn, Nresp and Nstr of total leaf N content (Na) is the Nstore.
where Na is the total leaf N content, Nstr is the structural N (which is also the SDS-insoluble N, Nin-SDS).
The remaining Nw without Ncb and Nresp could be regarded as the other water-soluble protein (Now) of Nstore.
The remaining Ns without Nlc and Net could be regarded as the other SDS-soluble protein (Nos) of Nstore.
Based on the model (Fig. 9), the Nstore then could be expressed in another way:
where Nnp is other non-protein N of Nstore.
Nitrogen and potassium measurement
The N concentration in the digestion solution was determined with a continuous flow analyzer (AA3, Seal Analytical, Inc., Southampton, UK), and the K concentration in the digestion solution was determined with a flame photometer (M-410, Cole-Parmer, Chicago, IL, USA.).
An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was calculated using SPSS 18.0 to compare the differences between different treatments. Differences between the mean values were compared using Duncan’s multiple range test at a P ≤ 0.05 level of significance. All figures and regression analyses were created using Origin Pro 8.5 software.
Availability of data and materials
The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
- Ca :
CO2 in the leaf chamber
CO2 concentration in leaf internal air space
- Jmax :
The maximum rate of electron transport rate
The treatment with 0 kg K2O ha− 1
The treatment with 120 kg K2O ha− 1
The treatment with 180 kg K2O ha− 1
- Ka :
The treatment with 0 kg N ha− 1
The treatment with 180 kg N ha− 1
The treatment with 270 kg N ha− 1
- Na :
- Ncb :
- Net :
Electron transfer N
- Nin-SDS :
SDS-insoluble protein N
- Nlc :
Light capture N
- Nnp :
- Nos :
Other SDS-soluble protein
- Now :
Other water-soluble protein
- Npsn :
- Nrep :
- Ns :
SDS-soluble protein N
- Nstore :
- Nstr :
- Nw :
Water-soluble protein N
- Pn :
Net photosynthetic rate
Photosynthetic N use efficiency
Sodium dodecyl sulfate
- Vc,max :
The maximum rate of Rubisco-catalyzed carboxylation rate
LeBauer DS, Treseder KK. Nitrogen limitation of net primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems is globally distributed. Ecology. 2008;89:371–9.
Evans IR. Photosynthesis and nitrogen relationships in leaves of C3 plants. Oecologia. 1989;78:9–19.
Makino A, Osmond B. Solubilization of ribulose-1 5-bisphosphate carboxylase from the membrane fraction of pea leaves. Photosynth Res. 1991;29:79–86.
Poorter H, Evans JR. Photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency of species that differ inherently in specific leaf area. Oecologia. 1998;116:26–37.
Walcroft AS, Whitehead D, Silvester WB, Kelliher FM. The response of photosynthetic model parameters to temperature and nitrogen concentration in Pinus radiata D. Don. Plant Cell Environ. 1997;20:1338–48.
Hikosaka K, Osone Y. A paradox of leaf-trait convergence: why is leaf nitrogen concentration higher in species with higher photosynthetic capacity? J Plant Res. 2009;22:245–51.
Chen LS, Cheng LL. Carbon assimilation and carbohydrate metabolism of “Concord” grape (Vitis labrusca L.) leaves in response to nitrogen supply. J Amer Soc Hort Sci. 2003;128:754–60.
Chen LS, Cheng LL. Photosynthetic enzymes and carbohydrate metabolism of apple leaves in response to nitrogen limitation. J Hortic Sci Biotechnol. 2004;79:923–9.
Dreccer MF, Schapendonk AHCM, Oijen MV, Pot CS, Rabbinge R. Radiation and nitrogen use at the leaf and canopy level by wheat and oilseed rape during the critical period for grain number definition. Aust J Plant Physiol. 2000;27:899–910.
Makino A, Sakuma H, Sudo E, Mae T. Differences between maize and rice in n-use efficiency for photosynthesis and protein allocation. Plant Cell Physiol. 2003;44:952–6.
Takashima T, Hikosaka K, Hirose T. Photosynthesis or persistence: nitrogen allocation in leaves of evergreen and deciduous Quercus species. Plant Cell Environ. 2004;27:1047–54.
Onoda Y, Hikosaka K, Hirose T. Allocation of nitrogen to cell walls decreases photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency. Funct Ecol. 2004;18:419–25.
Ellsworth DS, Reich PB, Naumburg ES, Koch GW, Kubiske ME, Smith SD. Photosynthesis, carboxylation and leaf nitrogen responses of 16 species to elevated pCO2 across four free-air CO2 enrichment experiments in forest, grassland and desert. Glob Chang Biol. 2004;10:2121–38.
Feng YL, Lei YB, Wang RF, Callaway RM. Valientebanuet a, Inderjit et al. evolutionary tradeoffs for nitrogen allocation to photosynthesis versus cell walls in an invasive plant. P Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009;106:1853–6.
Hikosaka K, Terashima I. A model of the acclimation of photosynthesis in the leaves of C3 plants to sun and shade with respect to nitrogen use. Plant Cell Environ. 1995;18:605–18.
Funk JL, Glenwinkel LA, Sack L. Differential allocation to photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic nitrogen fractions among native and invasive species. PLoS One. 2013;8:e64502.
Xu CG, Fisher R, Wullschleger SD, Wilson CJ, Cai M, McDowell NG. Toward a mechanistic modeling of nitrogen limitation on vegetation dynamics. PLoS One. 2012;7:e37914.
Frak E, Le Roux X, Millard P, Dreyer E, Jaouen G, Saint-Joanis B, Wendler R. Changes in total leaf nitrogen and partitioning, of leaf nitrogen drive photosynthetic acclimation to light in fully developed walnut leaves. Plant Cell Environ. 2001;24:1279–88.
Oguchi R, Hikosaka K, Hirose T. Does the photosynthetic light-acclimation need change in leaf anatomy? Plant Cell Environ. 2003;26:505–12.
Niedz RP, Evens TJ. The effects of nitrogen and potassium nutrition on the growth of nonembryogenic and embryogenic tissue of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck). BMC Plant Biol. 2009;8:126.
Hou WF, Yan JY, Jákli B, Lu JW, Ren T, Cong RH, Li XK. Synergistic effects of nitrogen and potassium on quantitative limitations to photosynthesis in rice (Oryza sativa L.). J Agr Food Chem. 2018;66:5125–32.
Lu ZF, Pan YH, Hu WS, Cong RH, Ren T, Guo SW, Lu JW. The photosynthetic and structural differences between leaves and siliques of Brassica napus exposed to potassium deficiency. Bmc Plant Biol. 2017;1:240.
Jákli B, Tavakol E, Tränkner M, Senbayram M, Dittert K. Quantitative limitations to photosynthesis in K deficient sunflower and their implications on water-use efficiency. J Pant Pysiol. 2017;9:20–30.
Tränkner M, Tavakol E, Jákli B. Functioning of potassium and magnesium in photosynthesis, photosynthate translocation and photoprotection. Physiol Plantarum. 2018;163:414–31.
Radin JW, Boyer JS. Control of leaf expansion by nitrogen nutrition in sunflower plants role of hydraulic conductivity and turgor. Plant Physiol. 1982;69:771–5.
Gastal F, Lemaire G. N uptake and distribution in crops: an agronomical and ecophysiological perspective. J Exp Bot. 2002;53:789–99.
Szczerba MW, Britto DT, Balkos KD, Kronzucker HJ. Alleviation of rapid, futile ammonium cycling at the plasma membrane by potassium reveals K+-sensitive and -insensitive components of NH4 + transport. J Exp Bot. 2008;59:303–13.
Balkos KD, Britto DT, Kronzucker HJ. Optimization of ammonium acquisition and metabolism by potassium in rice (Oryza sativa, L. cv. IR-72). Plant Cell Environ. 2010;33:23–34.
Brittod DT, Balkosk KD, Becker A, Coskun D, Huynhw WQ, Kronzuckerh HJ. Potassium and nitrogen poising: physiological changes and biomass gains in rice and barley. Can J Plant Sci. 2014;94:1085–9.
Feng YL, Fu GL, Zheng YL. Specific leaf area relates to the differences in leaf construction cost, photosynthesis, nitrogen allocation, and use efficiencies between invasive and noninvasive alien congeners. Planta. 2008;228:383–90.
Liu T, Ren T, White PJ, Cong RH, Lu JW. Storage nitrogen co-ordinates leaf expansion and photosynthetic capacity in winter oilseed rape. J Exp Bot. 2018;69:2995–3007.
Mu XH, Chen QW, Chen FJ, Yuan LX, Mi GH. Within-leaf nitrogen allocation in adaptation to low nitrogen supply in maize during grain-filling stage. Front Plant Sci. 2016;7:699.
Suzuki Y, Miyamoto T, Yoshizawa R, Mae T, Makino A. Rubisco content and photosynthesis of leaves at different positions in transgenic rice with an overexpression of RBCS. Plant Cell Environ. 2009;32:417–27.
Li Y, Gao YX, Xu XM, Shen QR, Guo SW. Light-saturated photosynthetic rate in high-nitrogen rice (Oryza sativa L.) leaves is related to chloroplastic CO2 concentration. J Exp Bot. 2009;60:2351–60.
Hikosaka K, Hanba YT, Hirose T, Terashima I. Photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency in woody and herbaceous plants. Funct Ecol. 1998;12:896–05.
Ripullone F, Grassi G, Lauteri M, Borghetti M. Photosynthesis-nitrogen relationships: interpretation of different patterns between Pseudotsuga menziesii and Populus eueoamericana in a mini-stand experiment. Tree Physiol. 2003;23:137–44.
Kleijn D, Treier UA, Müller-Schärer H. The importance of nitrogen and carbohydrate storage for plant growth of the alpine herb Veratrum album. New Phytol. 2005;66:565–75.
Maydup ML, Antonietta M, Guiamet JJ, Graciano C, López JR, Tambussi EA. The contribution of ear photosynthesis to grain filling in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Field Crop Res. 2010;119:48–58.
Maydup ML, Antonietta M, Guiamet JJ, Tambussi EA. The contribution of green parts of the ear to grain filling in old and modern cultivars of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.): evidence for genetic gains over the past century. Field Crop Res. 2012;134:208–15.
Sanchez-Bragado R, Molero G, Reynolds MP, Araus JL. Relative contribution of shoot and ear photosynthesis to grain filling in wheat under good agronomical conditions assessed by differential organ δ13C. J Exp Bot. 2014;65:5401–13.
Guo ZW, He Q, Feng DH. Features of the photosynthetic tissue in the sheaths of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Intelligent Information, Control, and Communication Technology for Agricultural. Engineering. 2013;8762.
Sharpe RM, Mahajan A, Takacs EM, Stern DB, Cahoon AB. Developmental and cell type characterization of bundle sheath and mesophyll chloroplast transcript abundance in maize. Curr Genet. 2011;57:89–102.
Vicankova A, Kutik J. Chloroplast ultrastructural development in vascular bundle sheath cells of two diVerent maize (Zea myas L.) genotypes. Plant Soil Environ. 2005;51:491–5.
Gómez S, Steinbrenner AD, Osorio S, Schueller M, Ferrieri RA, Fernie AR, Orians CM. From shoots to roots: transport and metabolic changes in tomato after simulated feeding by a specialist lepidopteran. Entomol Exp Appl. 2012;144:101–11.
Wu XY, Ding CH, Baerson SR, Lian FZ, Lin XH, Zhang LQ, Wu CF, Hwang SY, Zeng RS, Song YY. The roles of jasmonate signalling in nitrogen uptake and allocation in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Plant Cell Environ. 2019;42:659–72.
Long SP, Bernacchi CJ. Gas exchange measurements, what can they tell us about the underlying limitations to photosynthesis? Procedures and sources of error. J Exp Bot. 2003;54:2393–401.
Thomas RL, Sheard RW, Moyer JR. Comparison of conventional and automated procedures for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium analysis of plant material using a single digestion. Agron J. 1967;59:240–3.
Ali AA, Xu C, Rogers A, Fisher RA, Wullschleger SD, Massoud EC, et al. A global scale mechanistic model of photosynthetic capacity (LUNA V1. 0). Geosci Model Dev. 2016;9:587–606.
Jordan DB, Ogren WL. The CO2/O2 specifcity of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase: dependence on ribulose bisphosphate concentration, pH and temperature. Planta. 1984;61:308–13.
Niinemets Ü, Tenhunen JD. A model separating leaf structural and physiological effects on carbon gain along light gradients for the shade-tolerant species Acer saccharum. Plant Cell Environ. 1997;20:845–66.
Nolan WG, Smillie RM. Temperature-induced changes in hill activity of chloroplasts isolated from chilling-sensitive and chilling-resistant plants. Plant Physiol. 1977;59:1141–5.
Collatz GJ, Ball JT, Grivet C, Berry JA. Physiological and environmental regulation of stomatal conductance, photosynthesis and transpiration: a model that includes a laminar boundary layer. Agric For Meteorol. 1991;54:107–36.
The authors are grateful to the staff at the Agricultural Bureau of Wuxue for their agricultural support. The authors are also grateful to Dr. Tao Liu and Dr. Yonghui Pan (Resources and Environment, Huazhong Agricultural University) for the assistance with the sample test and data analysis.
This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0200108), the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201503123) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2662017JC010).
Ethics approval and consent to participate
The rice seed (Shenliangyou 5814) is a common and broadly cultivated variety in China. The seed was bought from Hunan Ava Seeds Co., Ltd., China. There is no transgenic technology or material in this study, therefore the ethics approval is not required. The experimental research on plants performed in this research complied with institutional, national and international guidelines. The field study was conducted in accordance with local legislation and granted by the Agricultural Bureau of Wuxue County.
Consent for publication
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Hou, W., Tränkner, M., Lu, J. et al. Interactive effects of nitrogen and potassium on photosynthesis and photosynthetic nitrogen allocation of rice leaves. BMC Plant Biol 19, 302 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-019-1894-8
- Photosynthetic nitrogen allocation
- Photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency
- Oryza sativa L