Plant and Soil

, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 259–270

Root turnover of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) in soil tubes

  • U. Krauss
  • J. W. Deacon
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00008339

Cite this article as:
Krauss, U. & Deacon, J.W. Plant Soil (1994) 166: 259. doi:10.1007/BF00008339


Five groundnut cultivars were grown in transparent tubes of pasteurized loam compost in growth-chamber conditions. Weekly tracings were made of all the roots visible through the walls of the tubes. White roots were assessed as living, and brown or decayed roots as dead; this correlated with microscopical assessments of root viability based on cytoplasmic staining with neutral red followed by plasmolysis.

For all five cultivars, root laterals began to die 3–4 weeks after plants were sown. Death of root laterals progressed down the soil profile with time, while new roots were produced successively deeper from the extending taproot. The half-life of individual roots was calculated as 3.7–4.4 weeks for all cultivars, based on assessments of the roots that died up to plant maturity (14–20 weeks, depending on cultivar). At maturity, 73–83% of the cumulative length of root systems had died. The onset and rate of root death were not related to onset of flowering or pod-filling; instead, the peak times of root death at different distances down the root system were related to earlier (3–5 week) peak times of root production in those regions. The net result of root turnover was that, despite continued new root production, the maximum length of living (white) roots of each cultivar was recorded at 2–4 weeks after sowing. Death of the earliest formed root laterals was also observed in the first five weeks after sowing of groundnut in an experimental field plot in Malawi. Progressive root turnover is considered to be a normal feature of groundnut, perhaps representing an energy-economy strategy.

Key words

groundnut root development root senescence 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Krauss
    • 1
  • J. W. Deacon
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cell and Molecular BiologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.WINBANCastriesSt Lucia