Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Getting To The Root Of The Matter

Date:
August 24, 2008
Source:
Soil Science Society of America
Summary:
A number of current issues related to water availability and climate change are giving impetus to new research aimed at roots and their functioning. The research is producing new experimental methods, data acquisition and theoretical understanding. Recently, scientists from the US Salinity Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, assembled a collection of new research in the form of 13 papers that are published as a special section of the August issue of Vadose Zone Journal.

Like most things that exist underground, plant roots are out-of-sight and easily forgotten, but while flowers, leaves, and other aboveground plant parts are more familiar, plant roots are equally deserving of our appreciation. Beneath every towering tree, tasty crop, and dazzling ornamental lies a root system that makes it all possible. Roots provide anchor and support for plants, extract water and nutrients from soil, and reduce soil erosion. Roots also play an important role in soil carbon cycling and the global carbon balance.

A number of current issues related to water availability and climate change are giving impetus to new research aimed at roots and their functioning. The research is producing new experimental methods, data acquisition, and theoretical understanding. Recently, scientists from the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, assembled a collection of new research in the form of 13 papers that are published as a special section of the August issue of Vadose Zone Journal. Some of the research in these papers was presented at the 2006 Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting (Indianapolis, IN) and the 2007 European Geosciences Union General Assembly (Vienna, Austria).

Several of the collected papers take aim at the "out-of-sight" problem, using advanced imaging technologies to observe roots and their functioning at the scale of a single plant or root. Imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are more commonly used in medical and industrial applications, and their use in root research requires new measurement procedures and protocols. In the collected works, researchers were able to successfully obtain images of growing root systems and were able to observe water uptake patterns.

Another current research topic concerns the role of roots in carbon cycling and the implications for global climate change. New research reported in the special section demonstrates that root and carbon dynamics are highly complex, requiring nearly continuous monitoring to understand the biophysical factors that regulate belowground carbon dynamics.

A few of the collected papers are concerned with the development of mathematical models that simulate various root processes, including the uptake of water. These types of models form the basis for various computer simulation tools that are currently used in agricultural and environmental management. For example, one paper in the collection uses such a model to investigate the role of root uptake in regulating the movement of plutonium in soils at the Savannah River nuclear materials processing site.

Roots can also be studied at the level of plant species or biomes. Included in the new collection is research reporting on differences in root zone hydrologic behavior for various species in chaparral ecosystems. The observed differences are minor, but there are detectible differences in how different vegetation affects the water budget. Other research looks at factors affecting rooting depth for different soils, climates, and vegetation. The authors conclude that many ecological factors favor shallow roots over deep roots, and hypothesize that root distributions for particular plant communities tend to be only as deep as necessary to meet specific water requirements.

Todd Skaggs and Peter Shouse, both of the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, CA, served as guest editors of the special section, Roots and Root Function, and introduce the papers in a preface to the special section.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Soil Science Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd H. Skaggs and Peter J. Shouse. Roots and Root Function: Introduction. Vadose Zone J, 7:1008-1009 (2008) DOI: 10.2136/vzj2008.0076

Cite This Page:

Soil Science Society of America. "Getting To The Root Of The Matter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819160209.htm>.
Soil Science Society of America. (2008, August 24). Getting To The Root Of The Matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819160209.htm
Soil Science Society of America. "Getting To The Root Of The Matter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819160209.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

AFP (July 29, 2014) An infestation of rats is causing concern among tourists at Paris' most famous park -- the Tuileries garden next to the Louvre Museum. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins