Plant and Soil

, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 291–299

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

  • René G. A. Boot
  • Manon Mensink

DOI: 10.1007/BF00032425

Cite this article as:
Boot, R.G.A. & Mensink, M. Plant Soil (1990) 129: 291. doi:10.1007/BF00032425


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.

Key words

Deschampsia flexuosa Festuca ovina Festuca rubra Holcus lanatus Molinia caerulea phenotypic plasticity root hair density root hair length root:shoot ratio root system morphology specific root area specific root length 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • René G. A. Boot
    • 1
  • Manon Mensink
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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