Architectural tradeoffs between adventitious and basal roots for phosphorus acquisition


Walk, T.C.; Jaramillo, R.; Lynch, J.P.


Plant and Soil, Springer Science + Business Media, Volume 279, Issue 1/2, Netherlands, p.347-366 (2006)

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Adventitious rooting contributes to efficient phosphorus acquisition by enhancing topsoil foraging. However, metabolic investment in adventitious roots may retard the development of other root classes such as basal roots, which are also important for phosphorus acquisition. In this study we quantitatively assessed the potential effects of adventitious rooting on basal root growth and whole plant phosphorus acquisition in young bean plants. The geometric simulation model SimRoot was used to dynamically model root systems with varying architecture and C availability growing for 21 days at 3 planting depths in 3 soil types with contrasting nutrient mobility. Simulated root architectures, tradeoffs between adventitious and basal root growth, and phosphorus acquisition were validated with empirical measurements. Phosphorus acquisition and phosphorus acquisition efficiency (defined as mol phosphorus acquired per mol C allocated to roots) were estimated for plants growing in soil in which phosphorus availability was uniform with depth or was greatest in the topsoil, as occurs in most natural soils. Phosphorus acquisition and acquisition efficiency increased with increasing allocation to adventitious roots in stratified soil, due to increased phosphorus depletion of surface soil. In uniform soil, increased adventitious rooting decreased phosphorus acquisition by reducing the growth of lateral roots arising from the tap root and basal roots. The benefit of adventitious roots for phosphorus acquisition was dependent on the specific respiration rate of adventitious roots as well as on whether overall C allocation to root growth was increased, as occurs in plants under phosphorus stress, or was lower, as observed in unstressed plants. In stratified soil, adventitious rooting reduced the growth of tap and basal lateral roots, yet phosphorus acquisition increased by up to 10% when total C allocation to roots was high and adventitious root respiration was similar to that in basal roots. With C allocation to roots decreased by 38%, adventitious roots still increased phosphorus acquisition by 5%. Allocation to adventitious roots enhanced phosphorus acquisition and efficiency as long as the specific respiration of adventitious roots was similar to that of basal roots and less than twice that of tap roots. When adventitious roots were assigned greater specific respiration rates, increased adventitious rooting reduced phosphorus acquisition and efficiency by diverting carbohydrate from other root types. Varying the phosphorus diffusion coefficient to reflect varying mobilities in different soil types had little effect on the value of adventitious rooting for phosphorus acquisition. Adventitious roots benefited plants regardless of basal root growth angle. Seed planting depth only affected phosphorus uptake and efficiency when seed was planted below the high phosphorus surface stratum. Our results confirm the importance of root respiration in nutrient foraging strategies, and demonstrate functional tradeoffs among distinct components of the root system. These results will be useful in developing ideotypes for more nutrient efficient crops.