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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Soil nitrogen fluxes and root uptake in the boreal forest

Oyewole, Olusegun Ayodeji


Nitrogen (N) is essential for growth and net primary production of plants. However, N acquisition by plants is influenced by movement of soil N compounds from bulk soil to plant roots and uptake of N by roots. This thesis is aimed at deepening our knowledge on these key processes involved in plant N acquisition in the N-limited boreal forest. To address this aim, a novel, non-invasive microdialysis technique was employed. Amino acids dominated N fluxes in the boreal forest soils. Further, plant roots were shown to have the capacity to absorb organic and inorganic N present in the measured soil fluxes, but these soil fluxes, rather than root uptake, may limit plant N acquisition. The microdialysis technique was further developed to enable simultaneous estimation of diffusion and mass flow of N in soil. Applying this refinement of the technique in the field showed that mass flow significantly increased flux rates of soil N in the boreal forest ecosystem, and that it also altered the chemical composition of the N fluxes. The results from the studies presented in this thesis highlight the potential of the microdialysis technique to improve our understanding of the intrinsic processes involved in N acquisition by plant roots. They also suggest that amino acids might comprise an important source of N for plants in the boreal forest ecosystem. The results suggest that mass flow plays an important role for plant N acquisition in the boreal forest, and mass flow might increase the share of nitrate, particularly in nutrient-rich ecosystems. This finding opens a discussion on the role of transpiration in plant N nutrition, with implications for our understanding of how plant N nutrition will be affected by, among other things, elevated CO2, increased temperatures, and N fertilization.


amino acids; diffusion; mass flow; microdialysis; nitrogen availability; nitrogen uptake; plant nutrition; stable isotopes; transpiration

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:126
ISBN: 978-91-576-8450-9, eISBN: 978-91-576-8451-6
Publisher: Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Oyewole, Olusegun Ayodeji
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

Associated SLU-program

Future Agriculture (until Jan 2017)
Future Forests (until Jan 2017)
SLU Future Forests

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science
Forest Science
Agricultural Science

URI (permanent link to this page)