Horwath, W. R., E. A. Paul, and K. S. Pregitzer. 1992. Injection of N-15 into trees to study nitrogen cycling in soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal 56:316-319.

Citable PDF link: https://lter.kbs.msu.edu/pub/3012

Most N-15 dilution techniques disturb either the soil or N-pool size. The objective of this study was to develop a method of labeling the roots of Populus trees with N-15 without physically disturbing the soil. Such a method would enable the direct measurement of the flux of N-15 from dead roots into the soil organic matter. Leaf and root biomass were labeled by injection of N-15 directly into the vessel elements of hybrid Populus trees during their second growing season. The N-15 was uniformly distributed throughout the canopy and root system. The rate and amount of N-15 turnover from plant tissue can be determined by pool transfer or through differences in plant N-15 concentrations. The N-15 was detected in the dead-root pool 8 wk after injection, indicating root turnover. Results demonstrate the ability to measure the contribution of fine-root litter to N-cycling processes without disturbing the soil environment.

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