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Lupinus angustifolius has a plastic uptake response to heterogeneously supplied nitrate while Lupinus pilosus does not

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 19:25 authored by Dunbabin, VM, Rengel, Z, Diggle, A
Uptake rates calculated from plants uniformly supplied with a nutrient will underestimate uptake under heterogeneous conditions. A split-root nutrient solution experiment was set up to compare the uptake rate of 2 lupin species (Lupinus angustifolius L., L. pilosus Murr.) under conditions of uniform and heterogeneous nitrate supply. Nitrate was supplied uniformly to the root system at 250 μM (low), 750 μM (high), or 1500 μM (high), or in a split low/high or high/low combination between the upper and lower root system. While L. pilosus had a greater total nitrate uptake over the treatment period due to a higher total root length, L. angustifolius had 1.5-2.5 times greater nitrate uptake rate per unit of root length. L. angustifolius also had the capacity to increase the nitrate uptake rate in sections of the root system supplied locally with high nitrate, compared with a root system uniformly supplied with high nitrate. This increased uptake rate under heterogeneous supply enabled the plant to take up 74-94% of the total nitrate taken up when uniformly supplied with high nitrate, while only 58-72% would have been taken up without such a compensation mechanism. L. pilosus did not show this response. The difference between the response of these 2 species suggests that a range of nitrate uptake responses may exist across the lupin germplasm, and that it may be possible to select a lupin species with an enhanced ability to capture nitrate from the profile, thus decreasing nitrate losses from leaching.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)



Place of publication


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Grain legumes

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