Cyanide‐Resistant Root Respiration and Tap Root Formation in Two Subspecies of Hypochaeris radicata


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Root respiration of the tap root forming species Hypochaeris radicata L. was measured during tap root formation. A comparison was made of two subspecies: H. radicata L. ssp. radicata L., a subspecies from relatively rich soils, and H. radicata L. ssp. ericetorum Van Soest, a subspecies from poor acidic soils. Root respiration was high and to a large extent inhibited by hydroxamic acid (SHAM) before the start of the tap root formation, indicating a high activity of an alternative non‐phosphorylative electron transport chain. The rate of root respiration was much lower and less sensitive to SHAM when a considerable tap root was present. However, root respiration was also cyanide‐resistant when a tap root was present, indicating that the alternative pathway was still present. A decreased rate of root respiration coincided with an increase of the content of storage carbohydrates, mainly in the tap root. The level of reducing sugars was constant throughout the experimental period, and it was concluded that the activity of the alternative oxidative pathway was significant in oxidation of sugars that could not be utilized for purposes like energy production, the formation of intermediates for growth or for storage. Root respiration decreased after the formation of a tap root. This decrease could neither be attributed to a gradual disappearance of the alternative chain, nor to a decreased level of reducing sugars. No differences in respiratory metabolism between the two subspecies have been observed, suggesting that a high activity of the alternative oxidative pathway is not significant in adaptation of the present two subspecies to relatively nutrient‐rich or poor soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-239
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1979
Externally publishedYes


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