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Is there an optimal root architecture for nitrate capture in leaching environments?
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 13:28 authored by Dunbabin, VM, Diggle, A, Rengel, Z
Little is known about root architectural attributes that aid the capture of nitrate from coarse-textured soil profiles of high leaching potential. In this study, a range of root architectures from the herringbone to the dichotomous structure were simulated, and their capacity to take up nitrate leaching through a sandy profile was recorded. All root systems had equal total volume at each point in time, and so were considered cost equivalent. These simulations showed that the root architecture likely to maximize nitrate capture from sandy soils (under the Mediterranean rainfall pattern experienced in Western Australia) is one that quickly produces a high density of roots in the top-soil early in the season, thereby reducing total nitrate leached with opening season rains, but also has vigorous taproot growth, enabling access to deep-stored water and leached nitrate later in the season. This is the first published, spatially explicit attempt to assess the ability of different root architectures equivalent in cost, to capture nitrate from a spatially and temporally heterogeneous soil environment.
Publication titlePlant Cell & Environment
Department/SchoolTasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of publicationOxford, UK