Root proliferation of Norway spruce and Scots pine plants in response to local magnesium supply
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Nutrient sources in soils are often inhomogeneously distributed. In the present study root proliferation in response to Mg patches in soil was investigated by using a split-root system. The experiment demonstrated that the distribution of newly grown roots and the Mg concentrations of these roots can be strongly affected by soil nutrient supply, plant species and plant Mg nutritional status. In both Norway spruce and Scots pine plants, total root dry weight of newly grown roots was independent of the whole plant Mg nutritional status. Magnesium additions did not affect any parameters related to root morphology, irrespective of plant species and plant Mg nutritional status. Root Mg concentrations were increased in Mg-rich soil patches, but this accumulations of Mg varied with plant species. In Norway spruce plants, a marked patch Mg accumulation was only measured in Mg sufficient plants. In Mg deficient plants, a relatively homogenous distribution of root Mg concentrations was observed across all newly grown roots, although the highest Mg concentrations occurred in a patch with NPKMg supply. In Scots pine plants, Mg accumulations occurred irrespective of plant Mg nutritional status. These results suggest that tree root response to soil Mg patches is in contrast to root response to soil N, P and K patches.
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