Plant and Soil

, Volume 420, Issue 1–2, pp 37–48 | Cite as

Taxonomic and ecological patterns in root traits of Carex (Cyperaceae)

  • Maxim A. Konoplenko
  • Sabine Güsewell
  • Denis V. Veselkin
Regular article


Background and aims

Plants can develop various root traits which may contribute to their nutrient acquisition. We investigated the occurrence of five root traits among species of genus Carex to determine their frequency, mutual associations and dependence on taxonomy (subgenus) or habitat.


Root samples of 40 species were collected in their natural habitats within Russia and Belarus. They were examined microscopically to quantify the abundance of AM-fungal hyphae (H), arbuscules (A) and vesicles (V), dark septate endophyte (DSE), typical (long) root hairs (TRH), bulbous (shortened) root hairs (BRH) and dauciform roots (DR).


The frequency of root traits decreased in the order TRH (100% of the species), DSE (80%), BRH (43%), A and V (25%) and DR (23%). Most species possessed 2–4 different traits, but up to five were possible, even on a single plant. Traits occurred largely independently of each other. DR were only found in subgenus Carex and mainly in grasslands. DSE and BRH were more abundant in subgenus Carex. BRH were most abundant in wetlands, TRH were shortest and thinnest in grasslands.


A diversity of root traits exists in the genus Carex, with variation both among and within species. The abundance and size of traits exhibits some taxonomic and ecological patterns, which differ for each trait.


Arbuscular mycorrhiza Dark septate endophytes Dauciform roots Root hairs Carex 



The authors are grateful to A.A. Betekhtina for advice; to N.V. Zolotareva for providing some samples; and to N.B. Kuyantseva for organizing the fieldwork. They also thank Hans Lambers and two referees for constructive comments on a first version of the manuscript. The work was supported by Act 211 Government of the Russian Federation, contract № 02.A03.21.0006; by the Ural Federal University (a grant for the young scientists, а graduate students and students, contract no. on March 31, 2014) and by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project no. 16–54–00105).

Supplementary material

11104_2017_3292_MOESM1_ESM.doc (312 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 312 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maxim A. Konoplenko
    • 1
  • Sabine Güsewell
    • 2
  • Denis V. Veselkin
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Ecology, Department of Biological ScienceUral Federal University named after the first president B.N. YeltsinEkaterinburgRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH ZurichZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Laboratory of plant and fungal biodiversityInstitute of plant and animal ecology of Ural branch of Russian academy of scienceEkaterinburgRussia

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