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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2019, Vol. 18 Issue (6): 1246-1256    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(18)62030-1
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Effect of low-nitrogen stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics of maize cultivars with different lownitrogen tolerances
WU Ya-wei1*, LI Qiang2*, JIN Rong1, CHEN Wei1, LIU Xiao-lin1, KONG Fan-lei1, KE Yong-pei1, SHI Haichun1, YUAN Ji-chao1#br#
1 Key Laboratory of Crop Ecophysiology and Farming System in Southwest China, Ministry of Agriculture/College of Agriculture, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, P.R.China
2 Chongqing Key Laboratory of Economic Plant Biotechnology/Collaborative Innovation Center of Special Plant Industry in Chongqing/Institute of Special Plants, Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences, Chongqing 402160, P.R.China
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Abstract  Nitrogen (N) is a critical element for plant growth and productivity that influences photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence. We investigated the effect of low-N stress on leaf photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics of maize cultivars with difference in tolerance to low N levels. The low-N tolerant cultivar ZH311 and low-N sensitive cultivar XY508 were used as the test materials. A field experiment (with three N levels: N0, 0 kg ha–1; N1, 150 kg ha–1; N2, 300 kg ha–1) in Jiyanyang, Sichuan Province, China, and a hydroponic experiment (with two N levels: CK, 4 mmol L–1; LN, 0.04 mmol L–1) in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China were conducted. Low-N stress significantly decreased chlorophyll content and rapid light response curves of the maximum fluorescence under light (Fm´), fluorescence instable state (Fs), non-photochemical quenching (qN), the maximum efficiency of PSII photochemistry under dark-adaption (Fv/Fm), potential activity of PSII (Fv/Fo), and actual photochemical efficiency of PSII (ΦPSII) of leaves. Further, it increased the chlorophyll (Chl) a/Chl b values and so on. The light compensation point of ZH311 decreased, while that of XY508 increased. The degree of variation of these indices in low-N tolerant cultivars was lower than that in low-N sensitive cultivars, especially at the seedling stage. Maize could increase Chl a/Chl b, apparent quantum yield and light saturation point to adapt to N stress. Compared to low-N sensitive cultivars, low-N tolerant cultivars maintained a higher net photosynthetic rate and electron transport rate to maintain stronger PSII activity, which further promoted the ability to harvest and transfer light. This might be a photosynthetic mechanism by which low-N tolerant cultivar adapt to low-N stress.
Keywords:  maize        nitrogen        chlorophyll content              photosynthesis        chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics  
Received: 23 February 2018   Accepted: 29 May 2019
Fund: This work was financially supported by the Sichuan Key Technology Support Program of China (2014NZ0040) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest of China (20150312705).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence YUAN Ji-chao, Tel: +86-28-86290870, E-mail:    
About author:  WU Ya-wei, E-mail:; * These authors contributed equally to this study.

Cite this article: 

WU Ya-wei, LI Qiang, JIN Rong, CHEN Wei, LIU Xiao-lin, KONG Fan-lei, KE Yong-pei, SHI Hai-chun, YUAN Ji-chao. 2019. Effect of low-nitrogen stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics of maize cultivars with different lownitrogen tolerances. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18(6): 1246-1256.

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