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An appraisal of the electrical resistance method for assessing root surface area

Cao, Yang, Repo, Tapani, Silvennoinen, Raimo, Lehto, Tarja, Pelkonen, Paavo
Journal of experimental botany 2010 v.61 no.9 pp. 2491-2497
Salix, cutting, electric field, electrical resistance, nondestructive methods, root systems, roots, stems, surface area
Electrical resistances of roots and stems of hydroponically raised willows (Salix schwerinii) were studied and related to root morphology. Willow cuttings with and without roots were set in a constant electric field (effective voltage of 0.1 V, sine-AC, 128 Hz) in a hydroponic solution. The electrical resistance of different components in the measurement system was measured and analysed in relation to root surface area in contact with the cultivation solution. Axial resistivities of single root segments and of stems were measured. The results showed that the resistance decreased in relation to an increase in the contact surface area of the roots with the solution. The resistance depended strongly on the contact area of the stem with the solution, however, thus causing bias in the evaluation of root surface area. This work is a new contribution for the understanding of current pathways in the root system as exposed to an external electric field and for developing a non-destructive method to study plant roots accordingly. It may be concluded that the electrical resistance method is a useful non-destructive method to study roots and their physiological properties. Electrical analogues for roots and stem comprising resistors are discussed in relation to in situ measurements.