Plant and Soil

, Volume 217, Issue 1–2, pp 243–255 | Cite as

Effects of liming on rhizosphere chemistry and growth of fine roots and of shoots of sessile oak (Quercus petraea)

  • M.R. Bakker
  • R. Kerisit
  • K. Verbist
  • C. Nys


Soil acidification can be detrimental to root growth and nutrient uptake, and liming may alleviate such acidification. In the following study, seedlings of sessile oak (Quercus petraea Liebl. M.) were grown in rhizotrons and subjected to liming (L) or gypsum (G) treatments and compared with the control (C). In order to study and interpret the impact of these calcium rich treatments on fine root development and tree growth, the following parameters were assessed: fine root biomass, fine root length, seedling development (height, diameter, leaves), seedling biomass, nutrient content of roots and seedlings, bulk soil and soil solution chemistry and rhizosphere soil chemistry. The results show that liming increased bulk soil pH, exchangeable Mg, Ca and the Ca/Al molar ratio, and decreased exchangeable Al, mainly in the A-horizon. Gypsum had a similar but smaller impact on exchangeable Al, Ca, H+ and the Ca/Al molar ratio in the A-horizon, but reacted with depth, so that exchangeable Mn, Mg and Ca were increased in the B-horizon. In the rhizosphere, the general pattern was determined by the treatment effects of the bulk soil. Most elements were more concentrated in the rhizosphere than in bulk soil, except for Ca which was less concentrated after liming or gypsum application. In the B-horizon rhizosphere pH was increased by the treatments (L > G,C) close to the root tips. Furthermore, the length of the zone with a positive root-induced pH increase was greater for the limed roots as compared with both the other treatments. Fine root growth was stimulated by liming (L > G,C) both in terms of biomass and length, whereas specific root length was not obviously affected apart from the indication of some stimulation after liming at the beginning. The live:dead ratio of fine roots was significantly higher in the limed rhizotrons as compared to the control (G not assessed), indicating lower mortality (higher longevity). Shoot growth showed greater lime-induced stimulation (L > G,C) as compared to root growth. As a result the shoot:root ratio was higher in the limed rhizotrons than in the control (L > G,C). Liming induced a higher allocation of P, S, Mg, Ca and K to the leaves, stem and twigs. Gypsum showed similar effects, but was only significant for S. Liming increased the foliar Ca/Al ratio by both increasing foliar Ca and decreasing foliar Al, whereas gypsum did not clearly improve foliar nutrition. This study suggests that a moderate application of lime can be successful in stimulating seedling growth, but that gypsum had no effect on seedling growth. It can be concluded that this lime-induced growth stimulation is directly related to the improved soil fertility status, and the alleviation of Al toxicity and acid stress, resulting in better foliar nutrition. The impact of liming on fine roots, as a consequence, was not limited to a stimulation of the total amount of fine roots, but also improved the root uptake performance.

fine roots liming Quercus petraea Liebl. M. rhizosphere rhizotron shoot:root 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.R. Bakker
    • 1
  • R. Kerisit
    • 1
  • K. Verbist
    • 1
  • C. Nys
    • 1
  1. 1.Equipe Cycles BiogéochimiquesINRA NancyChampenouxFrance

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