Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

Frontiers in Plant Science



Publication Date



Root systems of woody plants generally display a strong relationship between the cross- sectional area or cross-sectional diameter (CSD) of a root and the dry weight of biomass (DWd) or root volume (Vd) that has grown (i.e., is descendent) from a point. Specification of this relationship allows one to quantify root architectural patterns and estimate the amount of material lost when root systems are extracted from the soil. However, specifications of this relationship generally do not account for the fact that root systems are comprised of multiple types of roots. We assessed whether the relationship between CSD and Vd varies as a function of root type. Additionally, we sought to identify a more accurate and time-efficient method for estimating missing root volume than is currently available. We used a database that described the 3D root architecture of Pinus pinaster root systems (5, 12, or 19 years) from a stand in southwest France. We determined the relationship between CSD and Vd for 10,000 root segments from intact root branches. Models were specified that did and did not account for root type. The relationships were then applied to the diameters of 11,000 broken root ends to estimate the volume of missing roots. CSD was nearly linearly related to the square root of Vd, but the slope of the curve varied greatly as a function of root type. Sinkers and deep roots tapered rapidly, as they were limited by available soil depth. Distal shallow roots tapered gradually, as they were less limited spatially. We estimated that younger trees lost an average of 17% of root volume when excavated, while older trees lost 4%. Missing volumes were smallest in the central parts of root systems and largest in distal shallow roots. The slopes of the curves for each root type are synthetic parameters that account for differentiation due to genetics, soil properties, or mechanical stimuli. Accounting for this differentiation is critical to estimating root loss accurately.



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