, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 291-299

Size and morphology of root systems of perennial grasses from contrasting habitats as affected by nitrogen supply

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This paper discusses interspecific differences and phenotypic responses to nitrogen supply in various root parameters of five perennial grasses from contrasting habitats. The following root parameters were studied: root:shoot ratio, specific root length, specific root area, mean root diameter, frequency of fine roots, and the length and density of root hairs. Significant between-species variation was found in all of these features. Species from fertile sites had higher root:shoot ratios at high nitrogen supply than species from infertile habitats. All species growing at low nitrogen supply showed a significant increase in root:shoot ratio. Specific root length, specific root area, mean root diameter and frequency of fine roots were not affected significantly by nitrogen supply. Species from infertile sites responded to low nitrogen supply by a significant increase in root hair length and root hair density.