Plant and Soil

, Volume 368, Issue 1–2, pp 569–580 | Cite as

Growth of tree roots in hostile soil: A comparison of root growth pressures of tree seedlings with peas

  • Gausul Azam
  • Cameron D. Grant
  • Rabindra K. Misra
  • Robert S. Murray
  • Ian K. Nuberg
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and Aims

As part of a study on growth of tree roots in hostile soil, we envisaged that establishment and survival of trees on hard, dry soil may depend on their ability to exert axial root growth pressures of similar magnitude to those of the roots of agricultural plants (with significant root thickening when roots grow across an air gap or cracks and biopores). We selected tree species originating from a range of different soil and climatic conditions to evaluate whether their relative success on harsh soil (in an evolutionary sense) might be related to the magnitude of root growth pressures they could exert, or how they performed in the very early stages of growth after germination.

Methods

We measured the maximum axial root growth force (Fmax) on single lateral root axes of 3- to 4- month old seedlings of 6 small-seeded eucalypts from 2 different habitats and 2 contrasting soil types. Root growth rate, root diameter and Fmax were also measured on the primary root axes of a large-seeded acacia and a domesticated annual (Pisum sativum) seedling for up to 10 days following germination.

Results

The lateral roots of the 6 eucalypts and the primary roots of the acacia were considerably smaller than the primary roots of P. sativum and they exerted average forces of similar magnitude to one another (0.198 to 0.312 N). The maximum axial root growth pressures were all in the range 150 to 250 kPa but E. leucoxylon, E. loxophleba and A. salicina exerted the greatest pressures among the trees, and comparable pressures to those exerted by the primary roots of 2-day-old P. sativum (211-252 kPa).

Although the primary roots of acacia seedlings exerted increasing axial root growth pressures over a 10-day period following germination, the pressures were still only slightly greater than those of the domesticated plant, P. sativum.

Conclusions

The lack of any very large differences in axial root growth pressures between trees and domesticated plants suggests that trees that grow well in harsh soil don’t do so by exerting higher root growth pressures alone but by also exploring the network of cracks and pores more effectively than do other plants that are less successful.

Keywords

Root elongation Hard soil Root growth force Woody perennials Annual crops Pisum sativum Eucalypt Acacia Plant evolution 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The senior author acknowledges the support from the University of Adelaide in the form of an International Postgraduate Student Scholarship and the Cooperative Research Centre for Future Farm Industries for supplementary support.

References

  1. Azam G, Grant CD, Nuberg IK, Murray RS, Misra RK (2012) Establishing woody perennials on hostile soils in arid and semi-arid regions – A review. Plant Soil 360:55–76Google Scholar
  2. Barley KP (1962) The effects of mechanical stress on the growth of roots. J Exp Bot 13:95–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barlow PW, Parker JS, Brain P (1994) Oscillations of axial plant organs. Adv Space Res 14:149–158PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baskin TI (2005) Anisotropic expansion of the plant cell wall. Ann Rev Cell & Developmental Biol 21:203–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bengough AG (2012) Root elongation is restricted by axial but not by radial pressures: so what happens in field soil? Plant Soil. doi: 10.1007/s11104-012-1428-8
  6. Bengough AG, McKenzie CJ (1994) Simultaneous measurement of root force and elongation for seedling pea roots. J Exp Bot 45:95–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bengough A, Mullins C (1991) Penetrometer resistance, root penetration resistance and root elongation rate in two sandy loam soils. Plant Soil 131:59–66Google Scholar
  8. Bengough AG, Bransby MF, Hans J, McKenna SJ, Roberts TJ, Valentine TA (2006) Root responses to soil physical conditions; growth dynamics from field to cell. J Exp Bot 57:437–447PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bengough AG, McKenzie BM, Hallett PD, Valentine TA (2011) Root elongation, water stress, and mechanical impedance: a review of limiting stresses and beneficial root tip traits. J Exp Bot 62:59–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boomsma CD and Lewis NB (1980) The native forest and woodland vegetation of South Australia. Bulletin (South Aust) Woods For Dept 25: p 210Google Scholar
  11. Clark LJ, Barraclough PB (1999) Do dicotyledons generate greater maximum axial root growth pressures than monocotyledons? J Exp Bot 50:1263–1266Google Scholar
  12. Clark LJ, Bengough AG, Whalley WR, Dexter AR, Barraclough PB (1999) Maximum axial root growth pressure in pea seedlings: effects of measurement techniques and cultivars. Plant Soil 209:101–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dalton G (1993) Direct seeding of trees and shrubs: a manual for Australian conditions. State Flora, Primary Industries, South Australia, p 123. ISBN 0-730-83947-8Google Scholar
  14. Dexter AR (1987) Mechanics of root growth. Plant Soil 98:303–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dye PJ (1996) Response of Eucalyptus grandis trees to soil water deficits. Tree Physiol 16:233–238PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dyson RJ, Jensen OE (2010) A fibre-reinforced fluid model of anisotropic plant cell growth. J Fluid Mech 655:472–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eavis BW (1972) Soil physical conditions affecting seedling growth. I. Mechanical impedance, aeration and moisture availability as influenced by bulk density and moisture levels in a sandy loam soil. Plant Soil 36:613–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eavis BW, Ratliff LF, Taylor HM (1969) Use of a dead-load technique to determine axial root growth pressure. Agron J 61:640–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ingestad T, Lund AB (1986) Theory and techniques for steady state mineral nutrition and growth of plants. Scand J For Res 1:439–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kolb E, Hartmann C, Genet P (2012) Radial force development during root growth measured by photo elasticity. Plant Soil. doi: 10.1007/s11104-012-1316-2
  21. Kozlowski TT (1999) Soil compaction and growth of woody plants. Scand J For Res 14:596–619Google Scholar
  22. Lewicka S, Pietruszka M (2007) Anisotropic plant cell elongation due to ortho-gravitropism. J Math Biol 54:91–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lipiec J, Horn R, Pietrusiewicz J, Siczek A (2012) Effects of soil compaction on root elongation and anatomy of different cereal plant species. Soil Till Res 121:74–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marcar N, Crawford D, Leppert P, Jovanovic T, Floyd R, Farrow R (1995) Trees for Saltland: a guide to selecting native species for Australia. CSIRO, Melbourne, p 72. ISBN 0-643-05819-2Google Scholar
  25. Materechera SA, Dexter AR, Alston AM (1991) Penetration of very strong soils by seedling roots of different plant species. Plant Soil 135:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Materechera SA, Alston AM, Kirby JM, Dexter AR (1992) Influence of root diameter on the penetration of seminal roots into a compacted subsoil. Plant Soil 144:297–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Misra RK (1997) Maximum axial growth pressures of the lateral roots of pea and eucalypt. Plant Soil 188:161–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Misra RK, Gibbons (1996) Growth and morphology of eucalypt seedling-roots, in relation to soil strength arising from compaction. Plant Soil 182:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Misra RK, Dexter AR, Alston AM (1986) Maximum axial and radial growth pressures of plant roots. Plant Soil 95:315–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Philipson JJ (1988) Root growth in Sitka spruce and Douglas-fir transplants: dependence on the shoot and stored carbohydrates. Tree Physiol 4:101–108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Robinson N, Harper R, Smettem K (2006) Soil water depletion by Eucalyptus spp. Integrated into dryland agricultural systems. Plant Soil 286:141–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Steudle E (2000) Water uptake by plant roots: an integration of views. Plant Soil 226:45–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Taylor HM, Ratliff LF (1969) Root growth pressures of cotton, peas and peanuts. Agron J 61:398–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Thaler P, Pagès L (1996) Root apical diameter and root elongation rate of rubber seedlings (Hevea brasiliensis) show parallel response to photoassimilate availability. Physiol Plant 97:365–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Whalley WR, Dexter AR (1993) The maximum axial growth pressure of roots of spring and autumn cultivars of lupin. Plant Soil 157:313–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Whiteley GM, Dexter AR (1982) Root development and growth of oil seed, wheat and pea crops on tilled and non-tilled soil. Soil Till Res 2:379–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yunusa IAM, Mele PM, Rab MA, Schefe CR, Beverly CR (2002) Priming of soil structural and hydrological properties by native woody species, annual crops, and a permanent pasture. Aust J Soil Res 40:207–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gausul Azam
    • 1
  • Cameron D. Grant
    • 1
  • Rabindra K. Misra
    • 2
  • Robert S. Murray
    • 1
  • Ian K. Nuberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Waite Research Institute, School of Agriculture, Food & WineUniversity of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering & SurveyingUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

Personalised recommendations