Plant and Soil

, Volume 444, Issue 1–2, pp 139–151 | Cite as

Variation in the morphology of fine roots in Cryptomeria japonica determined by branch order-based classification

  • Ryusei Wada
  • Toko Tanikawa
  • Ryuusei Doi
  • Yasuhiro HiranoEmail author
Regular Article



This study assessed intraspecific variation in morphological traits of the fine root branch orders of Cryptomeria japonica, and identified variation in the diameter of the first three-order roots among species types with mycorrhiza, and the diameter of first-order roots at the family level.


Diameter, length, and specific root length of branch order roots (up to the fourth-order) were measured in intact fine root systems collected in four C. japonica stands. Relationships between soil chemical properties and morphological traits of the first- to fourth-order roots were investigated. The diameter of roots of 52 tree species reported in previous studies was compared at species types with mycorrhiza and at family level.


The diameter of first-order roots in C. japonica varied by 1.2 times among stands. Negative correlations between soil NH4+ content and specific root length of the second- and third-order roots were observed in C. japonica. The diameter of first- and second-order roots forming arbuscular mycorrhiza in coniferous trees were significantly higher than those of roots forming ectomycorrhiza in coniferous and broadleaf trees. The diameter of first-order roots in Cupressaceae were significantly larger than those of Pinaceae, Sapindaceae, Betulaceae, and Fagaceae.


Clarifying intraspecific variation in morphological traits of C. japonica lower-order roots may contribute to understanding their responses to different site conditions such as soil inorganic nitrogen contents.


Absorptive roots Arbuscular mycorrhiza Evolutionary history Root diameter Specific root length 





Arbuscular mycorrhiza




Electrical conductivity






Net primary productivity


Specific root length



We appreciate the constructive comments of the editor and three reviewers on the submitted manuscript. We also thank K. Noguchi (Forestry and Forest Product Research Institute, FFPRI) for reading the first draft of the manuscript and providing invaluable comments. We thank M. Takano, Y. Yamaguchi, T. Miyasaka (Nagoya University), T. Okamoto, T. Mizoguchi (FFPRI), and Y. Matsuda (Mie University) for their invaluable suggestions and assistance with fieldwork and laboratory analyses. We thank K. Yamase (Hyogo Prefectural Technology Center for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), T. Kobayashi (Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, Osaka Prefecture), and H. Fukumoto (The Mie Prefectural Forestry Research Center) for permission to access to the Forest Health-Monitoring Survey Sites of the Forestry Agency of Japan. This study was partly funded by JSPS KAKENHI Grant number 15H04519, 18 J23364 and 19H03011.

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4264_MOESM1_ESM.docx (533 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 533 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental StudiesNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Kansai Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Bioagricultural SciencesNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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