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15N methodologies for quantifying the response of N2-fixing associations to elevated [CO2]: A review

Chalk, Phillip M., Lam, Shu K., Chen, Deli
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.571 pp. 624-632
carbon dioxide, endophytes, forage, free air carbon dioxide enrichment, greenhouses, isotope fractionation, legumes, nitrogen fixation, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, soil, uncertainty
Methodologies based on 15N enrichment (E) and 15N natural abundance (NA) have been used to obtain quantitative estimates of the response of biological N2 fixation (BNF) of legumes (woody, grain and forage) and actinorhizal plants grown in artificial media or in soil exposed to elevated atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide e[CO2] for extended periods of time, in growth rooms, greenhouses, open top chambers or free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) facilities. 15N2 has also been used to quantify the response of endophytic and free-living diazotrophs to e[CO2]. The primary criterion of response was the proportional dependence of the N2-fixing system on the atmosphere as a source of N. i.e. the symbiotic dependence (Patm). The unique feature of 15N-based methods is their ability to provide time-integrated and yield-independent estimates of Patm. In studies conducted in artificial media or in soil using the E methodology there was either no response or a positive response of Patm to e[CO2]. The interpretation of results obtained in artificial media or with 15N2 is straight forward, not being subject to the assumptions on which the E and NA soil-cultured methods are based. A variety of methods have been used to estimate isotopic fractionation attendant on the NA technique, the so-called ‘B value’, which attaches a degree of uncertainty to the results obtained. Using the NA technique, a suite of responses of Patm to e[CO2] has been published, from positive to neutral to sometimes negative effects. Several factors which interact with the response of N2-fixing species to e[CO2] were identified.