A paradox of leaf-trait convergence: Why is leaf nitrogen concentration higher in species with higher photosynthetic capacity?

Kouki Hikosaka, Yoko Osone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is well known that leaf photosynthesis per unit dry mass (A mass) is positively correlated with nitrogen concentration (N mass) across naturally growing plants. In this article we show that this relationship is paradoxical because, if other traits are identical among species, plants with a higher Amass should have a lower N mass, because of dilution by the assimilated carbon. To find a factor to overcome the dilution effect, we analyze the Nmass-A mass relationship using simple mathematical models and literature data. We propose two equations derived from plant-growth models. Model prediction is compared with the data set of leaf trait spectrum obtained on a global scale. The model predicts that plants with a higher Amass should have a higher specific nitrogen absorption rate in roots (SAR), less biomass allocation to leaves, and/or greater nitrogen allocation to leaves. From the literature survey, SAR is suggested as the most likely factor. If SAR is the sole factor maintaining the positive relationship between Nmass and Amass, the variation in SAR is predicted to be much greater than that in Amass; given that Amass varies 130-fold, SAR may vary more than 2000-fold. We predict that there is coordination between leaf and root activities among species on a global scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Plant Research
Volume122
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May 1

Keywords

  • Carbon and nitrogen economy
  • Growth model
  • Leaf trait variation
  • Photosynthesis-nitrogen relationship
  • Root activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A paradox of leaf-trait convergence: Why is leaf nitrogen concentration higher in species with higher photosynthetic capacity?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this