St Clair, S.B.; Lynch, J.P.


Plant, Cell and Environment, Blackwell Publishing, Volume 28, Issue 7, UK, p.874-885 (2005)

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Variation in tolerance to nutrient limitations may contribute to the differential success of sugar maple ( Acer saccharum Marsh.) and red maple ( Acer rubrum L.) on acid soils. The objectives of this study were to examine these relationships as influenced by light environment and test whether sensitivity to nutrient stress is mediated by oxidative stress. First-year sugar maple and red seedlings were grown on forest soil cores contrasting in nutrient availability under high or low light intensity. Foliar nutrition, photosynthesis, growth and antioxidant enzyme activity were assessed. Photosynthesis and growth of sugar maple were significantly lower on nutrient-poor soils and were correlated with leaf nutrient status with Ca and P having the strongest influence. For red maple, only chlorophyll content showed sensitivity to the nutrient-poor soils. High light exacerbated the negative effects of nutrient imbalances on photosynthesis and growth in sugar maple. Antioxidant enzyme activity in sugar maple was highest in seedlings growing on nutrient-poor soils and was inversely correlated with photosynthesis, Ca, P, and Mg concentrations. These results suggest that: (1) sugar maple is more sensitive to nutrient stresses associated with low pH soils than red maple; (2) high light increases sugar maple sensitivity to nutrient stress; (3) the negative effects of nutrient imbalances on sugar maple may be mediated by oxidative stress.