The nature and way of root adaptation of juvenile woody plants Sorbus and Pyrus to drought

  • Viera PaganováEmail author
  • Zuzana Jureková
  • Helena Lichtnerová


The functional root traits of Pyrus pyraster (L.) Burgsd. and Sorbus domestica L. during early growth stages were evaluated. The aim of the study was to identify the functional traits of root systems that determine the adaptability of these woody species to drought conditions. The experiment was carried out under the controlled environment of a growth chamber. The root systems were analyzed using WinRhizo software. Several functional root traits were identified, including specific root length, root surface area, root length, root volume, root-to-shoot mass ratio (R:S), fine root (ϕ ˂ 2 mm) volume, coarse root (ϕ > 2 mm) volume, and fine-to-coarse root volume ratio (F/C). In drought, P. pyraster maintained the absorptive root surface unchanged, when increased the volume of the fine root fraction. The different strategy of adaptation to drought has been confirmed for S. domestica, which accumulated more dry mass in the root system in comparison to aboveground organs (significant increase of R:S ratio). The functional root traits analyzed here were species-dependent. The key functional traits that indicate the responses of studied tree taxa to drought conditions include root thickening, F/C, and R:S. Increased values of these parameters indicate the investment of the plant towards root extension. A higher proportion of fine roots increases the absorbing surface of the root system, thereby promoting water uptake from the soil.


Root traits Growth Plant responses Trees Seedlings 



The authors are thankful to Dr. Jana Černá for her help with the laboratory analyses and to Mr. Marek Hus for his help in processing the figures.

Author contribution

VP and ZJ contributed the conception and design of the study.

HL performed data collection.

VP and HL performed statistical analyses.

ZJ wrote the first draft of the manuscript.

VP and ZJ wrote sections of the manuscript.

All authors contributed to manuscript revision and read and approved the submitted version.

Funding information

This work was supported by the AgroBioTech Research Centre (ITMS 26220220180). The research was supported by a grant from the Cultural and Educational Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of Slovak Republic (KEGA): Project registration number 003SPU-4/2017: “Development and implementation of the standards for urban greenery management.”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Planting Design and MaintenanceSlovak University of AgricultureNitraSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Regional BioenergySlovak University of AgricultureNitraSlovakia

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