, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 419-427

Gas composition and respiration of water oak (Quercus nigra L.) and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.) roots after prolonged flooding

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We compared the effects of 9.5 months of a continuous flooding treatment with a drained control treatment on one year-old seedlings of green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.) and water oak (Quercus nigra L.), two tree species common to the bottomland-hardwood forests of eastern North America. The internal root gas composition of the more flood tolerant species, green ash, maintained higher oxygen and lower carbon dioxide concentrations under the flooding treatment than water oak. This apparently resulted in differences in rhizosphere oxidation. The amounts of Fe and Mn and the Fe/Mn ratio of the root coating extracted from trees in reduced soil conditions were much higher for the green ash than the water oak. It is argued that this reflects differences in the ability of these two species to maintain rhizosphere oxidation under prolonged periods of flooding and to prevent the accumulation of reduced potentially phytotoxic compounds. Alcohol dehydrogenase activity increased in the green ash and decreased in the water oak in the flooded treatment. This indicated that the better adapted species was able to rely upon increased anaerobic respiration in order to compensate for the decreased root oxygen supply, but the water oak was unable to maintain previous levels of respiration, probably as the result of sulfide toxicity.