Scots pine fine roots adjust along a 2000‐km latitudinal climatic gradient

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Scots pine fine roots adjust along a 2000‐km latitudinal climatic gradient

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Patterns of plant biomass allocation and functional adjustments along climatic gradients are poorly understood, particularly belowground. Generally, low temperatures suppress nutrient release and uptake, and forests under such conditions have a greater proportion of their biomass in roots. However, it is not clear whether ‘more roots’ means better capacity to acquire soil resources. Herein we quantified patterns of fine-root anatomy and their biomass distribution across Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) populations both along a 2000-km latitudinal gradient and within a common garden experiment with a similar range of populations. We found that with decreasing mean temperature, a greater percentage of Scots pine root biomass was allocated to roots with higher potential absorptive capacity. Similar results were seen in the common experimental site, where cold-adapted populations produced roots with greater absorptive capacity than populations originating from warmer climates. These results demonstrate that plants growing in or originated from colder climates have more acquisitive roots, a trait that is likely adaptive in the face of the low resource availability typical of cold soils.


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Zadworny, M., McCormack, M. L., Mucha, J., Reich, P. B. and Oleksyn, J. (2016), Scots pine fine roots adjust along a 2000-km latitudinal climatic gradient. New Phytol, 212: 389–399. doi:10.1111/nph.14048

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Zadworny, Marcin; Mccormack, M. Luke; Mucha, Joanna; Reich, Peter B; Oleksyn, Jacek. (2016). Scots pine fine roots adjust along a 2000‐km latitudinal climatic gradient. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, 10.1111/nph.14048.

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