New Forests

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 75–88

Impact of soil pressure and compaction on tracheids in Norway spruce seedlings

  • Roman Gebauer
  • Daniel Volařík
  • Milena Martinková


We tested the effect of soil compaction on Norway spruce seedlings in terms of the size and theoretical volume flow rate of the tracheids. The results show that soil pressure limits growth in the diameter of the lumens of tracheids in all parts of seedlings studied. The tracheids of the roots with primary xylem had larger lumens than those of the roots and shoots with secondary xylem in both unloaded and loaded seedlings. This corresponds to the higher cumulative theoretical volume flow rate of the tracheids from roots with primary xylem than those from roots and shoots with secondary xylem. Although the volume flow rate of tracheids, according to the Hagen-Poiseuille law, was directly proportional to the quadratic power of the capillary diameter (tracheid lumen), the cumulative curve of the theoretical hydraulic volume flow rate was higher or relatively comparable in loaded seedlings. An explanation for these findings is that there were higher gradients of water potential values in roots and leaves in loaded seedlings because the lengths of the conductive pathways were 27% shorter than in unloaded seedlings. We hypothesise that trees have adapted to different stresses by shortening their conductive pathways to maintain a transpiration rate similar to that of non-stressed trees. These results concerning the impact of soil compaction on tracheid diameter and volume flow rate improve our understanding of the growth and functioning of different conifer organs and the mechanisms underlying the efficiency of water transport through the root xylem to the shoot.


Adaptation Anatomy Volume flow rate Stress 


  1. Abdalla AM, Hettiaratchi DR, Reece AR (1969) The mechanics of root growth in granular media. J Agric Eng Res 14:236–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alder NN, Sperry JS, Pockman WT (1996) Root and stem xylem embolism, stomatal conductance and leaf turgor in Acer grandidentatum populations along a soil moisture gradient. Oecologia 105:293–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aloni R (1987) The induction of vascular tissues by auxin. In: Davies PJ (ed) Plant hormones and their role in plant growth and development. Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, pp 363–374Google Scholar
  4. Aloni R, Zimmermann MH (1983) The control of vessel size and density along the plant axis. A new hypothesis. Differentiation 24:203–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anfodillo T, Carraro V, Carrer M, Fior C, Rossi S (2006) Convergent tapering of xylem conduits in different woody species. New Phytol 169:279–290CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Atwell BJ (1993) Response of roots to mechanical impedance. Environ Exp Bot 33:27–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bauer T, Eschrich W (1997) Mechanical pressure inhibits vessel development of xylogenic cambial derivatives of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). Trees Struct Funct 11:349–356Google Scholar
  8. Bengough AG, MacKenzie CJ (1994) Simultaneous measurement of root force and elongation rate for seedling pea roots. J Exp Bot 45:95–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bengough AG, Mullins CE (1990) Mechanical impedance to root growth: a review of experimental techniques and root growth responses. J Soil Sci 41:341–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cermák J, Jiménez MS, González-Rodríguez AM, Morales D (2002) Laurel forest in Tenerife, Canary Islands II. Efficiency of the water conducting system in Laurus azorica trees. Trees 16:538–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Ennos AR, Fournier M (2007) Change in hydraulic conductivity, mechanical properties, and density reflecting the fall in strain along the lateral roots of two species of tropical trees. J Exp Bot 58:4095–4105CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Ennos AR, Fournier M (2008) Are radial changes in vascular anatomy mechanically induced or an ageing process? Evidence from observations on buttressed tree root systems. Trees 22:543–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark LJ, Whalley WR, Barraclough PB (2003) How do roots penetrate strong soil? Plant Soil 255:93–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cochran PH, Brock T (1985) Soil compaction and initial height growth of planted ponderosa pine. Research note PNW-434. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Exp Stn, Portland, ORGoogle Scholar
  15. Croser C, Bengough AG, Pritchard J (1999) The effect of mechanical impedance on root growth in pea (Pisum sativum). I. Rates of cell flux, mitosis, and strain during recovery. Physiol Plantarum 107:277–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Croser C, Bengough AG, Pritchard J (2000) The effect of mechanical impedance on root growth in pea (Pisum sativum). II. Cell expansion and wall rheology during recovery. Physiol Plantarum 109:150–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis SD, Sperry JS, Hacke UG (1999) The relationship between xylem conduit diameter and cavitation caused by freezing. Am J Bot 86:1367–1372CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Development Core Team R (2007) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  19. Domec JC, Warren JM, Meinzer FM, Lachhenbruch B (2009) Safety factors for xylem failure by implosion and air-seeding within roots, trunks and branches of young and old conifer trees. IAWA J 30:100–120Google Scholar
  20. Duncham SM, Lachenbruch B, Ganio LM (2007) Bayesian analysis of Douglas-fir hydraulic architecture at multiple scales. Trees 21:65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Eavis BW (1967) Mechanical impedance to root growth. In: Agricultural Engineering Symposium, Silsoe Paper 4/F/39:1–11Google Scholar
  22. Gebauer R, Martinková M (2005) Effects of pressure on the root systems of Norway spruce plants (Picea abies [L.] Karst.). J For Sci 51:268–275Google Scholar
  23. Gomez A, Powers RF, Singer MJ, Horwath WR (2002) Soil compaction effects on growth of young ponderosa pine following litter removal in California’s Sierra Nevada. Soil Sci Soc Am J 66:1334–1343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gómez-Limón FJ, de Lucio JV (1995) Recreational activities and loss of diversity on grasslands in Alta Manzanares Natural Park, Spain. Biol Conserv 74:99–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hacke UG, Sperry JS (2001) Functional and ecological xylem anatomy. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 4:97–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Halverson HG, Zisa RP (1982) Measuring the response of conifer seedlings to soil compaction stress. Forest Service Research Paper. NE-509Google Scholar
  27. Hejnowicz Z (1997) Graviresponses in herbs and tree: a major role for the redistribution of tissue and growth stresses. Planta 203:136–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Konopka B, Pages L, Doussan C (2008) Impact of soil compaction heterogeneity and moisture on maize (Zea mays L.) root and shoot development. Plant Soil Environ 54:509–519Google Scholar
  29. Konopka B, Pages L, Doussan C (2009) Soil compaction modifies morphological characteristics of seminal maize roots. Plant Soil Environ 55:1–10Google Scholar
  30. Kozlowski TT (1971) Growth and development of trees. Volume I: seed germination, ontogeny, and shoot development. Academic Press, New York and London, pp 296–386Google Scholar
  31. Kozlowski TT (1999) Soil compaction and growth of woody plants. Scand J Forest Res 14:596–619Google Scholar
  32. Krasowski MJ, Owens JN (1999) Tracheids in white spruce seedling’s long lateral roots in response to nitrogen availability. Plant Soil 217:215–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marron N, Delay D, Petit JM, Dreyer E, Kahlem G, Delmotte FM, Brignolas F (2002) Physiological traits of two populus × euramericana clones, Luisa avanzo and dorskamp, during water stress and re-watering cycle. Tree Physiol 22:849–858PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Martínez-Vilalta J, Pockman WT (2002) The vulnerability to freezing-induced xylem cavitation of Larrea tridentata (Zygophyllaceae) in the Chihuahuan desert. Am J Bot 89:1916–1924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCulloh K, Sperry JS (2005) Patterns in hydraulic architecture and their implications for transport efficiency. Tree Physiol 25:257–267PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. McElrone AJ, Pockaman WT, Martinez-Vilalta J, Jackson RB (2004) Variation in xylem structure and function in stems and roots of trees to 20 m depth. New Phytol 163:507–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nadyezhdina N, Čermák J, Neruda J, Prax A, Ulrich R, Nadyezhdin V, Gašpárek J, Pokorný E (2006) Roots under the load of heavy machinery in spruce trees. Eur J Forest Res 125:111–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Němec B, Bartoš J, Hršel I, Chaloupka J, Lhotský O, Luxová M, Milovidov P, Nečásek J, Pazourková Z, Pazourek J, Sosnová V (1962) Botanical microtechnic (in Czech). Československá Akademie Věd. Praque, pp 60–414Google Scholar
  39. Nicholas S (1998) Plant resistance to environmental stress. Curr Opin Biotech 9:214–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nobel PS (2005) Physicochemical and environmental plant physiology. Elsevier, Academic Press, pp 446–454Google Scholar
  41. Prasad BK (1986) Staining technique in botany. Internationl book distributors DEHRA DUN, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  42. Qiu-yu W, Hong-bai J, Jie S (2005) Geographic variation and genetic performance of Picea koraiensis in growth and wood characteristics. J Forest Res 16:93–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Richards BG, Greacen EL (1986) Mechanical stresses on an expanding cylindrical root analogue in granular media. Aust J Soil Res 24:393–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sands R, Bowen GD (1978) Compaction of sandy soils in radiata pine forests II. Effects of compaction on root configuration and growth of radiata pine seedlings. Aust For Res 8:163–170Google Scholar
  45. Sarén MP, Serimaa R, Andersson S, Paakkari T, Saranpää P, Pesonen E (2001) Structural Variation of Tracheids in Norway Spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.). J Struct Biol 136:101–109CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Sarquis JI, Jordan WR, Morgan PW (1991) Ethylene evolution from maize (Zea mays L.) seedling roots sholte in response to mechanical impedance. Plant Physiol 96:1171–1177CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Schulze ED, Beck E, Müller-Hohenstein K (2005) Plant ecology. Springer, Berlin-HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  48. Serengil Y, Özhan S (2006) Effects of recreational activities on the soil and water components of a deciduous forest ecosystem in Turkey. Int J Environ Stud 63:273–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sperry JS, Saliendra NZ (1994) Intra- and inter-plant variation in xylem cavitation in Betula occidentalis. Plant Cell Environ 17:1233–1241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Taiz L, Zeiger E (2002) Plant physiology, 3rd edn. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  51. Tuttle CL, Golden MS, Meldahl RS (1988) Soil compaction effects on Pinus taeda establishment from seed and early growth. Can J Forest Res 18:628–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tyree MT, Ewers FW (1991) The hydraulic architecture of trees and other woody plants. New Phytol 119:345–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Veen BW (1982) The influence of mechanical impedance on the growth of maize root. Plant Soil 66:101–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. West GE, Brown JH, Enquist BJ (1999) A general model for the structure and allometry of plant vascular systems. Nature 400:664–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zimmermann MH (1983) Xylem structure and the ascent of sap. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  56. Zwieniecki MA, Melcher PJ, Holbrook MN (2001) Hydraulic properties of individual xylem vessels of Fraxinus american. J Exp Bot 52:257–264CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roman Gebauer
    • 1
  • Daniel Volařík
    • 1
  • Milena Martinková
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Forest Botany, Dendrology and GeobiocenologyMendel University of Agriculture and ForestryBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations