Efficiency of Root Respiration in Relation to Growth Rate, Morphology and Soil Composition

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Root growth respiration and root maintenance respiration rate of the following species were determined: Hypochaeris radicata L. ssp. radicata L., H. radicata ssp. ericetorum Van Soest, Plantago lanceolata L., P. major L. ssp. major, P. major ssp. pleiosperma Pilgcr, P. maritime L., Senecio viscosus L., S. vulgaris L. and Urtica dioica L. A high root growth respiration (i.e. the amount of oxygen consumed for synthesis of a given weight of root material) implied a high maintenance respiration rate (i.e. the amount of oxygen consumed per unit of time and dry weight, but not connected with growth). High values of both components reflect a low efficiency of root respiratory processes. The efficiency of root respiration, as determined by the values for root growth respiration and root maintenance respiration rate could not be demonstrated to be of advantage in adaptation to soil conditions, as e.g. nitrogen content, moisture content and pH. It is concluded that (he degree of ‘wasteful utilization of sugars’ in roots, i.e. such consumption of sugars as cannot be related to structural growth, storage of carbohydrates or maintenance processes, depends on imbalance of transport of sugars from the shoot to the roots with utilization of sugars for synthesis of root material. The results are discussed in relation to Brouwer's explanation for the equilibrium between the growth of shoots and of roots. Root growth rate in the present species appears limited by a factor produced in the shoot under light conditions, and which factor is distinct from carbohydrates. The evidence presented shows that relatively inefficient root respiration does not imply a low growth rate. In regulation of plant growth the growth rate itself and also the shoot to‐root ratio may be more important than the regulation of the efficiency of energy metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-202
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1979
Externally publishedYes


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