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Nutrient Sources

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that plants need to live and grow. BNZ scientists have discovered that boreal forest trees and other plants can acquire nitrogen from organic compounds known as amino acids rather than mainly from inorganic sources as is the case in almost all other ecosystems.

Kielland, K., J.W. McFarland, R.W. Ruess, and K. Olson. 2007. Rapid organic nitrogen cycling in taiga forest ecosystems. Ecosystems 10:360-368.
McFarland, J. W., R. W. Ruess, K. Kielland, K. S. Pregitzer, R. L. Hendrick, and M. Allen. 2010. Cross-ecosystem comparisons of in situ plant uptake of amino acid-N and NH4+. Ecosystems 11:177-193.
Näsholm,T., K. Kielland and U. Ganeteg. 2009. Uptake of Organic Nitrogen by Plants. New Phytologist (Tansley Review) 182:31-48
Dr. Knut Kielland
Mid-successional balsam poplar trees rely on several mechanisms of nitrogen acquisition, including nitrate uptake from hyporheic water, ammonium from soil N mineralization, and direct uptake of free amino acids in the soil.
K. Kielland
The production of free amino acids via proteolysis increases across succession from the warm, alkaline soils of deciduous shrub stands to the acidic, permafrost-dominated stands of black spruce.
Kielland et al. 2007.

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