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Fine root production of astringent phenolics

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Chemical quality of fine roots (<1 mm diameter) was determined over a gradient of species composition in the Mixed Mesophytic Forest Region. Ash-free nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus concentrations of roots declined by 49, 41, and 72%, respectively, over a gradient of increasing soil acidity (pH 5.3 to 4.7). Lignin concentration was unrelated to either the vegetation gradient or any of the soil changes it encompassed; however, astringent phenolics increased by 275% over the same gradient. Trends in the chemical constituency of fine roots suggest that the production of phenolics in below-ground plant parts is increased on nutrient-poor sites. This response is best related to changes in species composition, especially increasing importancy of Quercus spp.

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Author information

Correspondence to Robert N. Muller.

Additional information

This investigation (No. 88-8-36) is connected with a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director

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Muller, R.N., Kalisz, P.J. & Luken, J.O. Fine root production of astringent phenolics. Oecologia 79, 563–565 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00378676

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Key words

  • Phenolics
  • Fine roots
  • Stress gradient
  • Vegetation