, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 899–908 | Cite as

Root architecture and hydraulic conductance in nutrient deprived Pistacia lentiscus L. seedlings

  • Roman TrubatEmail author
  • Jordi Cortina
  • Alberto Vilagrosa
Physiological ecology - Original research


Plants respond to low nutrient availability by modifying root morphology and root system topology. Root responses to nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) limitation may affect plant capacity to withstand water stress. But studies on the effect of nutrient availability on plant ability to uptake and transport water are scarce. In this study, we assess the effect of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation on root morphology and root system topology in Pistacia lentiscus L seedlings, a common Mediterranean shrub, and relate these changes to hydraulic conductivity of the whole root system. Nitrogen and phosphorus deprivation had no effect on root biomass, but root systems were more branched in nutrient limited seedlings. Total root length was higher in seedlings subjected to phosphorus deprivation. Root hydraulic conductance decreased in nutrient-deprived seedlings, and was related to the number of root junctions but not to other architectural traits. Our study shows that changes in nutrient availability affect seedling water use by modifying root architecture. Changes in nutrient availability should be taken into account when evaluating seedling response to drought.


Root junctions Root topology Nutrient availability Water uptake SRL 



This research was funded by the CEAM Foundation, the Ministry of Science and Innovation (GRACCIE Program Consolider-Ingenio 2010; SURVIVE CGL2011-30531-C02-02), the Ministry of Environment (RECUVES, 077/RN08/04.1), the EU (FUME project, GA no. 243888) and by the Regional Government of Valencia (FEEDBACKS-PROMETEO/2009/006). CEAM Foundation is funded by Generalitat Valenciana and Fundació Bancaixa. We are grateful to Marian Pérez-Devesa, Juan José Torrecillas, and Santi Soliveres for their help in field work. We are also grateful to Germán Lopez, and Felipe Gil and Conselleria de Medi Ambient, Aigua, Territori i Habitatge for the use of Sta. Faç public nursery.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roman Trubat
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jordi Cortina
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alberto Vilagrosa
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología and IMEMUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  2. 2.Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo (CEAM)Parque TecnológicoPaternaSpain

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