GIORDANO Carla Valeria
Phenotypic plasticity of the coarse root system of Prosopis flexuosa, a phreatophyte tree, in the Monte Desert (Argentina)
GUEVARA, ARANZAZU; GIORDANO, CARLA V.; ARANIBAR, JULIETA; QUIROGA, MARCELO; VILLAGRA, PABLO E.
PLANT AND SOIL
Año: 2010 vol. 330 p. 447 - 447
Prosopis flexuosa trees in the Monte Desert grow in dune and inter-dune valleys, where the water table is located at 6-14 m depth. We asked whether trees in the dunes, which are less likely to access the water table, present a coarse surface root architecture that might favor the exploration / exploitation of dune resources, compensating for water table inaccessibility. We characterized the architecture of surface roots of valley and dune trees, together with the soil environment. The dune held 50 % less and deeper gravimetric soil water (along a 4 m profile), 3-times less organic matter, 2-times less available phosphorous, and a sharper contrast of ammonium and nitrate concentration between plant canopies and uncovered soil than the valley. Coarse surface roots of dune trees were highly branched and grew tortuously at 0.56 ± 0.16 m depth before sinking downward near the tree crown, suggesting an intensive exploitation of the ephemeral, deep, and canopy-linked resources. In contrast, trees from the valley spread their profuse and less branched surface roots mainly horizontally at 0.26 ± 0.08 m depth, several meters outside the crown probably exploring this resource-rich site. A model for the environmental control of root architecture together with potential ecological effects is discussed.