Seasonal variation of water uptake of a Quercus suber tree in Central Portugal
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- Nadezhdina, N., Ferreira, M.I., Silva, R. et al. Plant Soil (2008) 305: 105. doi:10.1007/s11104-007-9398-y
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Hydraulic redistribution (HR) is the phenomenon where plant roots transfer water between soil horizons of different water potential. When dry soil is a stronger sink for water loss from the plant than transpiration, water absorbed by roots in wetter soil horizons is transferred toward, and exuded into dry soil via flow reversals through the roots. Reverse flow is a good marker of HR and can serve as a useful tool to study it over the long-term. Seasonal variation of water uptake of a Quercus suber tree was studied from late winter through autumn 2003 at Rio Frio near Lisbon, Portugal. Sap flow was measured in five small shallow roots (diameter of 3–4 cm), 1 to 2 m from the tree trunk and in four azimuths and at different xylem depths at the trunk base, using the heat field deformation method (HFD). The pattern of sap flow differed among lateral roots as soil dried with constant positive flow in three roots and reverse flow in two other roots during the night when transpiration ceased. Rain modified the pattern of flow in these two roots by eliminating reverse flow and substantially increasing water uptake for transpiration during the day. The increase in water uptake in three other roots following rain was not so substantial. In addition, the flux in individual roots was correlated to different degrees with the flux at different radial depths and azimuthal directions in trunk xylem. The flow in outer trunk xylem seemed to be mostly consistent with water movement from surface soil horizons, whereas deep roots seemed to supply water to the whole cross-section of sapwood. When water flow substantially decreased in shallow lateral roots and the outer stem xylem during drought, water flow in the inner sapwood was maintained, presumably due to its direct connection to deep roots. Results also suggest the importance of the sap flow sensor placement, in relation to sinker roots, as to whether lateral roots might be found to exhibit reverse flow during drought. This study is consistent with the dimorphic rooting habit of Quercus suber trees in which deep roots access groundwater to supply superficial roots and the whole tree, when shallow soil layers were dry.