The development of roots and root systems in white spruce (Picea Glauca [Moench] Voss) seedlings and the influence of cultural treatments on root morphology, anatomy, and the capacity to conduct water




Krasowski, Marek J.

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Root development in Picea glauca seedlings was studied anatomically during the first year after germination. The cyclic pattern of elongation of individual roots was established about three months after germination. With progressing development, root hairs gradually diminished and colonization of roots by mycorrhizal fungi increased. The development of primary tissues in long roots, relative to the distance from the root tip, appeared to be related to their rate of root elongation. In these roots, the development of Casparian bands in the endodermis often occurred several millimeters away from the root tip. In elongating short roots, endodermal cells attained their primary state only 2-4 cells away from the proximal part of the apical meristem. In non-elongating roots, the secondary-state endodermis was connected to the metacutis just above the apical meristem. The development of Casparian bands was always prior to the maturation of the first xylem elements. The endodermis did not develop past the secondary state. Through the presence of passage cells, it remained functional until its disruption by secondary growth. Low frequency of plasmodesmata in the endodermis indicated that the plasma membrane - cell wall - plasma membrane type of transport was the main means of molecule exchange between the cortex and the stele in white spruce roots. Undifferentiated tissues of the root near the apical meristem were almost impermeable to fluorescent dye tracers Sulforhodamine G and fluorescein diacetate. The metacutis and the endodermis at the primary and secondary state were impermeable to the apoplastic tracer Sulforhodamine G. Roots and root systems were structurally and physiologically affected by cultural treatments such as pruning and fertilizer application. Roots of seedlings grown at low nitrogen (N) supply were thin and their tracheids were narrow. Excess N did not significantly increase root diameter and tracheid dimensions, compared to the optimum supply. Dimensions of bordered pits were not significantly affected by the N level. The secondary development in roots advanced basipetally but exceptions were found indicating that cambial growth of roots could vary along the root regardless of the position relative to the root tip. Seedlings with different root systems modified by nursery culture exhibited different pattems of root growth after planting. Root elongation and root surface area increases immediately after planting were greater in container-grown than in mechanically box-pruned seedlings but this was unrelated to the longer-term performance of these seedlings. The initially low hydraulic conductance of root systems in box-pruned seedlings increased significantly 6-8 weeks after planting while it remained unchanged or declined in container-grown seedlings. Root pressure, comparable to that reported for angiosperm seedlings, was found in white spruce seedlings during the first few weeks after planting. This is contrary to the general notion that conifers do not develop notable root pressure. The initiation and elongation of roots in unfertilized organic compartments was poor compared to root growth in unfertilized mineral compartments, especially in mechanically pruned seedlings whose roots proliferated in the latter compartments. The growth of roots in the organic substrates was enhanced by the addition of slow-release fertilizer to that substrate. The growth response of roots to slow-release fertilizer added to the mineral substrate was restricted to that compartment but root growth in both soil compartments was affected by the addition of slow-release fertilizer to the organic substrate. Root development in different types of planting stock was differently affected by the soil substrate type and the addition of the slow release fertilizer.



White spruce, Roots (Botany)