Main content area

Relationship between fine-root exudation and respiration of two Quercus species in a Japanese temperate forest

Sun, Lijuan, Ataka, Mioko, Kominami, Yuji, Yoshimura, Kenichi
Tree physiology 2017 v.37 no.8 pp. 1011-1020
Quercus glauca, Quercus serrata, canopy, cell respiration, dissolved organic carbon, ectomycorrhizae, exudation, fine roots, microbial activity, microbial carbon, nitrogen, rhizosphere, soil, temperate forests, tree physiology
Plants allocate a considerable amount of carbon (C) to fine roots as respiration and exudation. Fine-root exudation could stimulate microbial activity, which further contributes to soil heterotrophic respiration. Although both root respiration and exudation are important components of belowground C cycling, how they relate to each other is less well known. In this study, we aimed to explore this relationship on mature trees growing in the field. The measurements were performed on two canopy species, Quercus serrata Thunb. and Quercus glauca, in a warm temperate forest. The respiration and exudation rates of the same fine-root segment were measured in parallel with a syringe-basis incubation and a closed static chamber, respectively. We also measured root traits and ectomycorrhizal colonization ratio because these indexes commonly relate to root respiration and reflect root physiology. The microbial activity enhanced by root exudation was investigated by comparing the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and microbial biomass carbon (MBC) between rhizosphere soils and bulk soils. Mean DOC concentration and MBC were ca two times higher in the rhizosphere soils and positively related to exudation rates, indicating that exudation further relates to the C dynamics in the soils. Flux rates of exudation and respiration were positively correlated with each other. Both root exudation and respiration rates positively related to ectomycorrhizal colonization and root tissue nitrogen, and therefore the relationship between the two fluxes may be attributed to fine-root activity. The flux rates of root respiration were 8.7 and 10.5 times as much as those of exudation on a root-length basis and a root-weight basis, respectively. In spite of the fact that flux rates of respiration and exudation varied enormously among the fine-root segments of the two Quercus species, exudation was in proportion to respiration. This result gives new insight into the fine-root C-allocation strategy and the belowground C dynamics.