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Soil fertility affects elemental distribution in needles of the conifer Araucaria angustifolia: a microanalytical study.

Julierme Zimmer Barbosa, Valdeci Constantino, Flávio Zanette, Antonio Carlos Motta, Stephen Arthur Prior
Cerne 2017 v.23 no.2 pp. 257-266
Araucaria angustifolia, aluminum, calcium, conifers, crystals, elemental composition, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, forests, indigenous species, iron, magnesium, mesophyll, nitrogen, nutrient content, phosphorus, potassium, scanning electron microscopy, silicon, sodium, soil, soil fertility
Araucaria angustifolia is a conifer species found in South American subtropical forests that comprises less than 3% of the native vegetation and little is known concerning the accumulation of nutritional elements in its needles. In this study, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) was used to assess the elemental distribution in needles. Needles were selected from 28 month-old plants grown in a fertilization experiment supplied with: 1) N, P, and K; 2) N and P; and 3) N and K. In microanalysis, four types of specialized needle tissues (adaxial epidermis, palisade mesophyll, spongy mesophyll and abaxial epidermis) were evaluated for elemental composition (C, O, P, K, Ca, S and Al). When crystals were detected, the concentrations of 12 elements were determined (C, O, P, K, Ca, S, Al, Fe, Mg, Na, Si, and Cl). Under low soil P and K, these elements were found in low concentrations in the epidermis, mesophyll, and crystals. Under low soil P, Ca and K accumulated in the spongy mesophyll, while under low soil K only Ca accumulated in this tissue. In addition, low soil P or K availability favored the formation of crystals; crystals under low soil K availability had more Ca and Mg. Soil P and K availability affected the distribution of elements in needles of A. angustifolia, in that type of tissue and formation of crystals were key to the nutrient dynamics in needles.