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The effects of elevated CO2 concentrations on the root growth of Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens grown in a FACE* system


Marjan Jongen, tel + 353–1–6081051, fax + 353–1-6081147, e-mail MMJONGEN@MAIL.TCD.IE


Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens were grown in a Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) system at elevated (600 μimol mol-1) and ambient (340 μmol mol-1) carbon dioxide concentrations during a whole growing season. Using a root ingrowth bag technique the extent to which CO2 enrichment influenced the growth of L, perenne and T. repens roots under two contrasting nutrient regimes was examined. Root ingrowth bags were inserted for a fixed time into the soil in order to trap roots. It was also possible to follow the mortality of roots in bags inserted for different time intervals. Root ingrowth of both L. perenne and T. repens increased under elevated CO2 conditions. In L. perenne, root ingrowth decreased with increasing nutrient fertilizer level, but for T. repens the root ingrowth was not affected by the nutrient application rate. Besides biomass measurements, root length estimates were made for T, repens. These showed an increase under elevated CO2 concentrations. Root decomposition appeared to decrease under elevated CO2 concentrations. A possible explanation for this effect is the observed changes in tissue composition, such as the increase in the carbon: nitrogen ratio in roots of L. perenne at elevated CO2 concentrations.

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