Patterns of variability in the diameter of lateral roots in the banana root system
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- • The relative importance of root system structure, plant carbon status and soil environment in the determination of lateral root diameter remains unclear, and was investigated in this study.
- • Banana (Musa acuminata) plants were grown at various moderate levels of soil compaction in two distinct experiments, in a field experiment (FE) and in a glasshouse experiment (GE). Radiant flux density was 5 times lower in GE. The distribution of root diameter was measured for several root branching orders.
- • Root diameters ranged between 0.09 and 0.52 mm for secondary roots and between 0.06 and 0.27 mm for tertiary roots. A relationship was found between the diameter of the parent bearing root and the median diameter of its laterals, which appears to be valid for a wide range of species. Mean lateral root diameter increased with distance to the base of the root and decreased with branching density [number of lateral roots per unit length of bearing root (cm−1)].
- • Typical symptoms of low light availability were observed in GE. In this case, lateral root diameter variability was reduced. Although primary root growth was affected by soil compaction, no effects on lateral root diameter were observed.