, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 523–531 | Cite as

Root hydraulic conductivity and vessel structure modification with increasing soil depth of two oak species: Quercus pubescens and Quercus robur

Original Paper


There are numerous studies on water transport characteristics of trees from the base to tops, but only few deal with the variation in xylem conduit diameters from shallow to deep roots. This study compares variation in root conduit properties as a function of increasing soil depths for two oak species (Quercus pubescens Willd and Quercus robur L.) growing on two different plots. We measured root vessel characteristics at three soil depths including 0, 50 and 100 cm, and calculated the associated root-specific hydraulic conductivities. Vessel diameter and specific hydraulic conductivity increased with increasing soil depth from 0 to 50 cm, but did not change in the deeper soil layer in both species. We conclude that freeze–thaw events in upper soil layer limit vessel diameters and thus hydraulic conductivity of roots.


Anatomy Cavitation Deep roots Hydraulic conductivity Shallow roots Vessel diameter 



We thank Jakub Houška for providing the information about the soil characteristics and Josef Urban for giving us microclimate data. We are also grateful to Jaromíra Dreslerová, Darina Smerekovská and Alžběta Malotínová for laboratory work, and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This work was funded from the Czech Science Foundation (grant no. GA526/08/1050), from the Czech Ministry of Education (grant no. 6215648902), from the Mendel University in Brno (grant IGA 12/2010) and from the project Indicators of trees vitality Reg. No. CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0265 co-financed by the European Social Fund and the state budget of the Czech Republic.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forest Botany, Dendrology and GeobiocoenologyMendel University in BrnoBrnoCzech Republic

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