Limited evidence to date suggests that acidic precipitation promotes leaching of nutrient cations from conifer foliage. In order to evaluate the relative contribution of the apoplast cation exchange complex and symplast nutrient pools to the leached ions, the magnitude of foliar leaching in response to acidic solutions was compared to foliar apoplast cation exchange capacity (CEC) for two conifer tree species (Pseudotsuga menziesii and Picea engelmanii). Leaching potential was determined by immersing detached needles in acidic solutions (pH5·6, 3·1, 2·1) over a range of time intervals (1, 4, 8, 24 h) and foliar apoplast cation exchange capacity was determined by potentiometric titration. Leaching increased with decreasing pH and increasing time of immersion. At pH values 2·1 and 3·1, equivalents of H+depleted from the acidic solutions approximated equivalents of base cations gained by the solutions. Maximum amounts leached were less than 40 μeq g-1dry weight of needles for the combination of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Measured foliar apoplast CEC for these species was approximately 120 μeq g-1dry weight of needles. These relative magnitudes indicate that the apoplast rather than the symplast provided the leached ions. Because the apoplast foliar cation exchange capacity appears to be large relative to the rates of H+diffusion across the cuticle, it may help to insulate the symplast nutrient reservoir from exposure to the H+of acidic solutions bathing the foliage. © 1992.
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