Plant and Soil

, Volume 171, Issue 2, pp 283–288 | Cite as

Root demography of mature citrus trees: the influence of Phytophthora nicotianae

  • Kevin R. Kosola
  • David M. Eissenstat
  • James H. Graham
Research Article


The amount of root mortality caused by root pathogens such as Phytophthora nicotianae (syn. Phytophthora parasitica) has typically been inferred from the net change in root length density in sequential soil cores. Because such measurements give information only on net changes in root populations, the actual rate of root turnover is often underestimated. We used minirhizotrons to track the fate of a large number of individual fine roots of mature field-grown citrus trees over a 6-month period. This method enabled us to examine the effect of P. nicotianae population levels on fine-root mortality. Seasonal and genotypic variation in patterns of citrus fine root mortality were associated with variation in population levels of P. nicotianae. Fine root lifespans were shorter when populations of P. nicotianae were high. Fine roots of the Phytophthora-susceptible rootstock, rough lemon (Citrus jamibhiri), had shorter median lifespans and supported larger populations of P. nicotianae than the fine roots of the more tolerant rootstock, Volkamer lemon (Citrus volkameriana). Rates of root mortality were either relatively constant for roots of all ages, or increased with age; the latter pattern was most pronounced for Volkamer lemon roots. Differences in the age-dependence of root mortality may, therefore, play a role in genotypic differences in tolerance of Phytophthora root rot by these two rootstocks. H Lambers Section editor

Key words

Citrus jambhiri Citrus volkameriana minirhizotron Phytophthora nicotianae root demography 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin R. Kosola
    • 1
  • David M. Eissenstat
    • 1
  • James H. Graham
    • 1
  1. 1.IFAS, Citrus Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaLake AlfredUSA

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