Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 405970
Title Contrasting root behaviour in two grass species: a test of functionality in dynamic heterogeneous conditions
Author(s) Mommer, L.; Visser, E.J.W.; Ruijven, J. van; Caluwe, H. de; Pierik, R.; Kroon, H. de
Source Plant and Soil 344 (2011)1-2. - ISSN 0032-079X - p. 347 - 360.
Department(s) Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) soil nutrient heterogeneity - foraging traits - plants bother - rich patches - proliferation - plasticity - placement - precision - responses - growth
Abstract Root systems are highly plastic as they express a range of responses to acquire patchily distributed nutrients. However, the ecological significance of placing roots selectively in nutrient hotspots is still unclear. Here, we investigate under what conditions selective root placement may be a significant functional trait that determines belowground competitive ability. We studied two grasses differing in root foraging behaviour, Festuca rubra and Anthoxanthum odoratum. The plants were grown in stable and more dynamic heterogeneous environments, by switching nutrient patches halfway through the experiment. A. odoratum was a factor of two less selective in placing its roots into nutrient-rich patches than F. rubra. A. odoratum produced overall higher root length densities with higher specific root length than F. rubra and acquired more nutrients. A. odoratum appeared to be the superior competitor, irrespective of the nutrient dynamics. Our results suggest that root behaviour consisting of producing high root length densities at relatively low biomass investments can be a more effective foraging strategy than placing roots selectively in nutrient hotspots. When understanding the functionality of root traits among different species, specific root length may play a key role
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