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Periodicity in the development of the root system of young rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg.): relationship with shoot development

Thaler, P., Pages, L.
Plant, cell and environment 1996 v.19 no.1 pp. 56-64
Hevea brasiliensis, periodicity, plant development, branching, tap roots, roots, shoots
The growth pattern of the root system of young rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) was studied in relation to shoot development over a period of 3 months. Temporal and spatial variations in elongation and branching processes were examined for the different root types, by means of root observation boxes. Shoot growth was typically rhythmic. Root development was periodic and related to leaf expansion. Root elongation was depressed during leaf growth, whereas branching was enhanced. Consequently, highly branched areas with vigorous secondary roots alternated along the taproot with poorly branched areas with shorter roots. Root types were not affected to the same degree by shoot competition: during leaf expansion, taproot growth was just depressed but remained continuous, the emergence and elongation rates of secondary roots were significantly affected and the elongation rates of tertiary roots fell to zero. These results were consistent with the hypothesis that root growth is related to competition for assimilates and to the sink strength of the different root types, whereas root branching appeared to be promoted by leaf development.