High nitrogen inhibits biomass and saponins accumulation in a medicinal plant Panax notoginseng

PeerJ. 2023 Feb 21;11:e14933. doi: 10.7717/peerj.14933. eCollection 2023.


Nitrogen (N) is an important macronutrient and is comprehensively involved in the synthesis of secondary metabolites. However, the interaction between N supply and crop yield and the accumulation of effective constituents in an N-sensitive medicinal plant Panax notoginseng (Burkill) F. H. Chen is not completely known. Morphological traits, N use and allocation, photosynthetic capacity and saponins accumulation were evaluated in two- and three-year-old P. notoginseng grown under different N regimes. The number and length of fibrous root, total root length and root volume were reduced with the increase of N supply. The accumulation of leaf and stem biomass (above-ground) were enhanced with increasing N supply, and LN-grown plants had the lowest root biomass. Above-ground biomass was closely correlated with N content, and the relationship between root biomass and N content was negatives in P. notoginseng (r = -0.92). N use efficiency-related parameters, NUE (N use efficiency, etc.), NC (N content in carboxylation system component) and P n (the net photosynthetic rate) were reduced in HN-grown P. notoginseng. SLN (specific leaf N), Chl (chlorophyll), NL (N content in light capture component) increased with an increase in N application. Interestingly, root biomass was positively correlated with NUE, yield and P n. Above-ground biomass was close negatively correlated with photosynthetic N use efficiency (PNUE). Saponins content was positively correlated with NUE and P n. Additionally, HN improved the root yield of per plant compared with LN, but reduced the accumulation of saponins, and the lowest yield of saponins per unit area (35.71 kg·hm-2) was recorded in HN-grown plants. HN-grown medicinal plants could inhibit the accumulation of root biomass by reducing N use and photosynthetic capacity, and HN-induced decrease in the accumulation of saponins (C-containing metabolites) might be closely related to the decline in N efficiency and photosynthetic capacity. Overall, N excess reduces the yield of root and C-containing secondary metabolites (active ingredient) in N-sensitive medicinal species such as P. notoginseng.

PMID:36846464 | PMC:PMC9951802 | DOI:10.7717/peerj.14933


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