The morphological traits of fine roots change with forest succession and soil weathering. However, low tree species diversity in boreal forests may limit plastic responses of the roots to soil nutrient loss. We tested whether pine trees (Pinus sylvestris L.) exhibit root plasticity to change fine root allocation to deeper soil horizons in response to varying degree of podzolization.
We compared root biomass in two sand dune chronosequences (aluminium (Al)/iron (Fe) oxide-poor coarse-textured sand vs. oxide-rich fine-textured sand) in Estonia.
We found that faster podzolization in coarse-textured soil promotes migration of Al/Fe oxides and phosphorus (P) into deeper horizons and reshapes the depth distribution of fine root biomass. A decrease in P availability in the coarse-textured soil profile increases fine root biomass and length in both the organic and mineral horizons. In the fine-textured old soil, fine root distribution increases in the mineral soil (especially, spodic horizon) rich in oxide-bonded P.
Pine roots exhibit two forms of plasticity in low-diversity boreal forests – changing root morphological traits and changing depth distribution of root biomass, depending on the abundance of Al and Fe oxides and the depth distribution and dominant form of P.
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We devote this manuscript to the late Dr. Akira Osawa. This work was financially supported by the Green Network of Excellence (GRENE) Arctic Climate Change Project and by the Estonian Research Council Grant (IUT18–9, Environmental Changes and Their Effects on the Coastal Landscape of Estonia: Past, Present and Future–ENCHANTED). There is no conflict of interest.
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Fujii, K., Makita, N., Kamara, M. et al. Plasticity of pine tree roots to podzolization of boreal sandy soils. Plant Soil 464, 209–222 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-021-04928-7