Biological nitrification inhibition in sorghum: the role of sorgoleone production
Background and aims Nitrification and denitrification are the two most important processes that contribute to greenhouse gas emission and inefficient use of nitrogen. Suppressing soil nitrification through the release of nitrification inhibitors from roots is a plant function, and termed Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI). We report here the role and contribution of sorgoleone release to sorghum-BNI function. Methods Three sorghum genotypes (Hybridsorgo, IS41245 and GDLP 34-5-5-3) were evaluated for their capacity to release sorgoleone, which has BNI-activity, in hydroponic and soil culture. Sorgoleone released was measured using HPLC; BNI-activity was determined using a luminescent recombinant Nitrosomonas europaea assay. Results Sorgoleone production and BNI-activity release by roots are closely associated (1 g of sorgoleone is equivalent to 1 ATU activity in assay). Purified sorgoleone inhibited Nitrosomonas activity and suppressed soil nitrification. Sorghum genotypes release varying quantity of sorgoleone; GDLP 34-5-5-3 and Hybridsorgo showed higher capacity for both sorgoleone release and BNI-activity than did IS41245. In soil culture, GDLP 34-5-5-3 released higher quantity of sorgoleone into the rhizosphere, which had higher BNI-activity, and suppressed soil nitrification to a greater extent than did by IS41245. Conclusions These results demonstrate genetic differences for sorgoleone release and its functional link with BNI-capacity; there is potential for genetic improvement of sorghum BNI-capacity and deployment of this in low-nitrifying sorghum production systems.