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Relationships between root respiration rate and root morphology, chemistry and anatomy in Larix gmelinii and Fraxinus mandshurica



Relationships between root respiration rate and root morphology, chemistry and anatomy in Larix gmelinii and Fraxinus mandshurica



Tree Physiology 33(6): 579-589



Tree roots are highly heterogeneous in form and function. Previous studies revealed that fine root respiration was related to root morphology, tissue nitrogen (N) concentration and temperature, and varied with both soil depth and season. The underlying mechanisms governing the relationship between root respiration and root morphology, chemistry and anatomy along the root branch order have not been addressed. Here, we examined these relationships of the first- to fifth-order roots for near surface roots (0-10 cm) of 22-year-old larch (Larix gmelinii L.) and ash (Fraxinus mandshurica L.) plantations. Root respiration rate at 18 °C was measured by gas phase O2 electrodes across the first five branching order roots (the distal roots numbered as first order) at three times of the year. Root parameters of root diameter, specific root length (SRL), tissue N concentration, total non-structural carbohydrates (starch and soluble sugar) concentration (TNC), cortical thickness and stele diameter were also measured concurrently. With increasing root order, root diameter, TNC and the ratio of root TNC to tissue N concentration increased, while the SRL, tissue N concentration and cortical proportion decreased. Root respiration rate also monotonically decreased with increasing root order in both species. Cortical tissue (including exodermis, cortical parenchyma and endodermis) was present in the first three order roots, and cross sections of the cortex for the first-order root accounted for 68% (larch) and 86% (ash) of the total cross section of the root. Root respiration was closely related to root traits such as diameter, SRL, tissue N concentration, root TNC : tissue N ratio and stele-to-root diameter proportion among the first five orders, which explained up to 81-94% of variation in the rate of root respiration for larch and up to 83-93% for ash. These results suggest that the systematic variations of root respiration rate within tree fine root system are possibly due to the changes of tissue N concentration and anatomical structure along root branch orders in both tree species, which provide deeper understanding in the mechanism of how root traits affect root respiration in woody plants.

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Accession: 036962072

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PMID: 23824239

DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpt040


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