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Title: Root morphology and mycorrhizal type strongly influence root production in nutrient hot spots of mixed forests

Abstract

Plants compete for nutrients using a range of strategies. We investigated nutrient foraging within nutrient hot-spots simultaneously available to plant species with diverse root traits. We hypothesized that there would be more root proliferation by thin-root species than by thick-root species, and that root proliferation by thin-root species would limit root proliferation by thick-root species. We conducted a root ingrowth experiment in a temperate forest in eastern USA where root systems of different tree species could interact. Tree species varied in the thickness of their absorptive roots, and were associated with either ectomycorrhizal (EM) or arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Thus, there were thin- and thick-root AM and thin- and thick-root EM plant functional groups. Half the ingrowth cores were amended with organic nutrients (dried green leaves). Relative root length abundance, the proportion of total root length in a given soil volume occupied by a particular plant functional group, was calculated for the original root population and ingrowth roots after 6 months. The shift in relative root length abundance from original to ingrowth roots was positive in thin-root species but negative in thick-root species (p < .001), especially in unamended patches (AM: +6% vs. -7%; EM: +8% vs. -9%). Being thin-rootedmore » may thus allow a species to more rapidly recolonize soil after a disturbance, which may influence competition for nutrients. Moreover, we observed that nutrient additions amplified the shift in root length abundance of thin over thick roots in AM trees (+13% vs. -14%), but not in EM trees (+1% vs -3%). In contrast, phospholipid fatty acid biomarkers suggested that EM fungal hyphae strongly proliferated in nutrient hot-spots whereas AM fungal hyphae exhibited only modest proliferation. We found no evidence that when growing in the shared patch, the proliferation of thin roots inhibited the growth of thick roots. As a result, knowledge of root morphology and mycorrhizal type of co-existing tree species may improve prediction of patch exploitation and nutrient acquisition in heterogeneous soils.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. The Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Climate and Environmental Sciences Division
Contributing Org.:
NSF
OSTI Identifier:
1419620
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1411152
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0012003
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Ecology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 106; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-0477
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; arbuscular mycorrhiza; ectomycorrhiza; ingrowth; nutrient foraging; plant–soil interactions; resource exploitation; root competition; root length density; root proliferation; soil heterogeneity

Citation Formats

Chen, Weile, Koide, Roger T., and Eissenstat, David M. Root morphology and mycorrhizal type strongly influence root production in nutrient hot spots of mixed forests. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12800.
Chen, Weile, Koide, Roger T., & Eissenstat, David M. Root morphology and mycorrhizal type strongly influence root production in nutrient hot spots of mixed forests. United States. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12800.
Chen, Weile, Koide, Roger T., and Eissenstat, David M. Wed . "Root morphology and mycorrhizal type strongly influence root production in nutrient hot spots of mixed forests". United States. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12800. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1419620.
@article{osti_1419620,
title = {Root morphology and mycorrhizal type strongly influence root production in nutrient hot spots of mixed forests},
author = {Chen, Weile and Koide, Roger T. and Eissenstat, David M.},
abstractNote = {Plants compete for nutrients using a range of strategies. We investigated nutrient foraging within nutrient hot-spots simultaneously available to plant species with diverse root traits. We hypothesized that there would be more root proliferation by thin-root species than by thick-root species, and that root proliferation by thin-root species would limit root proliferation by thick-root species. We conducted a root ingrowth experiment in a temperate forest in eastern USA where root systems of different tree species could interact. Tree species varied in the thickness of their absorptive roots, and were associated with either ectomycorrhizal (EM) or arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Thus, there were thin- and thick-root AM and thin- and thick-root EM plant functional groups. Half the ingrowth cores were amended with organic nutrients (dried green leaves). Relative root length abundance, the proportion of total root length in a given soil volume occupied by a particular plant functional group, was calculated for the original root population and ingrowth roots after 6 months. The shift in relative root length abundance from original to ingrowth roots was positive in thin-root species but negative in thick-root species (p < .001), especially in unamended patches (AM: +6% vs. -7%; EM: +8% vs. -9%). Being thin-rooted may thus allow a species to more rapidly recolonize soil after a disturbance, which may influence competition for nutrients. Moreover, we observed that nutrient additions amplified the shift in root length abundance of thin over thick roots in AM trees (+13% vs. -14%), but not in EM trees (+1% vs -3%). In contrast, phospholipid fatty acid biomarkers suggested that EM fungal hyphae strongly proliferated in nutrient hot-spots whereas AM fungal hyphae exhibited only modest proliferation. We found no evidence that when growing in the shared patch, the proliferation of thin roots inhibited the growth of thick roots. As a result, knowledge of root morphology and mycorrhizal type of co-existing tree species may improve prediction of patch exploitation and nutrient acquisition in heterogeneous soils.},
doi = {10.1111/1365-2745.12800},
journal = {Journal of Ecology},
number = 1,
volume = 106,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Apr 26 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Wed Apr 26 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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Cited by: 2works
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  • Plants compete for nutrients using a range of strategies. We investigated nutrient foraging within nutrient hot-spots simultaneously available to plant species with diverse root traits. We hypothesized that there would be more root proliferation by thin-root species than by thick-root species, and that root proliferation by thin-root species would limit root proliferation by thick-root species. We conducted a root ingrowth experiment in a temperate forest in eastern USA where root systems of different tree species could interact. Tree species varied in the thickness of their absorptive roots, and were associated with either ectomycorrhizal (EM) or arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Thus,more » there were thin- and thick-root AM and thin- and thick-root EM plant functional groups. Half the ingrowth cores were amended with organic nutrients (dried green leaves). Relative root length abundance, the proportion of total root length in a given soil volume occupied by a particular plant functional group, was calculated for the original root population and ingrowth roots after 6 months. The shift in relative root length abundance from original to ingrowth roots was positive in thin-root species but negative in thick-root species (p < .001), especially in unamended patches (AM: +6% vs. -7%; EM: +8% vs. -9%). Being thin-rooted may thus allow a species to more rapidly recolonize soil after a disturbance, which may influence competition for nutrients. Moreover, we observed that nutrient additions amplified the shift in root length abundance of thin over thick roots in AM trees (+13% vs. -14%), but not in EM trees (+1% vs -3%). In contrast, phospholipid fatty acid biomarkers suggested that EM fungal hyphae strongly proliferated in nutrient hot-spots whereas AM fungal hyphae exhibited only modest proliferation. We found no evidence that when growing in the shared patch, the proliferation of thin roots inhibited the growth of thick roots. As a result, knowledge of root morphology and mycorrhizal type of co-existing tree species may improve prediction of patch exploitation and nutrient acquisition in heterogeneous soils.« less
  • Cited by 7
  • A field study was conducted across a chronosequence of tallgrass prairie restorations to investigate the influence a plant's neighbor may have on its gross root morphology and association with mycorrhizal fungi. The root systems of a warm-season grass, Andropogon gerardii, and two perennial forbs, Coreopsis tripteris and Solidago altissima, were sampled by excavating soil blocks representing all pairwise inter- and intra-specific combinations of these species. With forb neighbors, Andropogon had higher percentages of its firbrous roots colonized by mycorrhizal fungi than with conspecific neighbors. Andropogon root morphology (as measured by average root radius, specific root length, and root branching) didmore » not vary with neighbor growth form; however, Andropogon roots did become finer as restoration age and root densities increased. For Coreopsis and Solidago, colonization of fibrous roots did not vary with neighbor species, but both forbs had coarser roots with interspecific neighbors than with conspecifics. With interspecific neighbors, Coreopsis almost doubled the number of branches per centimetre of root observed in conspecific pairs. Although some of the variations in colonization and root morphology may be attributable specifically to neighbor root mass, others were related to the overall root mass of the target-neighbor pair. The observed variations in mycorrhizal colonization may be related to increased opportunities for colonization by the fungus that are due not only to higher root densities but also to some sort of interaction between the root systems of Andropogon and the forbs. 44 refs., 2 figs., 2 tabs.« less
  • The carbon sink strength of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) was investigated by comparing the growth dynamics of mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal Andropogon gerardii plants over a wide range of equivalent tissue phosphorus : nitrogen (P : N) ratios. Host growth, apparent photosynthesis (A{sub net}), net C gain (C{sub n}) and P and N uptake were evaluated in sequential harvests of mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal A. gerardii plants. Response curves were used to assess the effect of assimilate supply on the mycorrhizal symbiosis in relation to the association of C with N and P. Mycorrhizal plants had higher C{sub n} than nonmycorrhizal plantsmore » at equivalent shoot P : N ratios even though colonization did not affect plant dry mass. The higher C{sub n} in mycorrhizal plants was related to both an increase in specific leaf area and enhanced photosynthesis. The additional carbon gain associated with the mycorrhizal condition was not allocated to root biomass. The C{sub n} in the mycorrhizal plants was positively related to the proportion of active colonization in the roots. The calculated difference between C{sub n} values in mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants, C{sub diff}, appeared to correspond to the sink strength of the AMF and was not an indirect result of enhanced nutrition in mycorrhizal plants.« less
  • In this study, there is little quantitative information about the relationship between root traits and the extent of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) colonization. We expected that ancestral species with thick roots will maximize AMF habitat by maintaining similar root traits across root orders (i.e., high root trait integration), whereas more derived species are expected to display a sharp transition from acquisition to structural roots. Moreover, we hypothesized that interspecific morphological differences rather than soil conditions will be the main driver of AMF colonization We analyzed 14 root morphological and chemical traits and AMF colonization rates for the first three rootmore » orders of 34 temperate tree species grown in two common gardens. We also collected associated soil to measure the effect of soil conditions on AMF colonization Results Thick-root magnoliids showed less variation in root traits along root orders than more-derived angiosperm groups. Variation in stele:root diameter ratio was the best indicator of AMF colonization within and across root orders. Root functional traits rather than soil conditions largely explained the variation in AMF colonization among species. In conclusion, not only the traits of first order but the entire structuring of the root system varied among plant lineages, suggesting alternative evolutionary strategies of resource acquisition. Understanding evolutionary pathways in below ground organs could open new avenues to understand tree species influence on soil carbon and nutrient cycling.« less