Subsurface aeration of tidal wetland soils: Root-system structure and aerenchyma connectivity in Spartina (Poaceae)

ketil.koop-jakobsen [ at ]


Root-aerenchyma in wetland plants facilitate transport of oxygen from aboveground sources (atmosphere and photosynthesis) to belowground roots and rhizomes, where oxygen can leak out and oxygenate the otherwise anoxic soils. In salt marshes, the soil oxygenation capacity varies among different Spartina-taxa, but little is known about structural pattern and connectivity of root-aerenchyma that facilitates this gas transport. Both environmental conditions and ploidy level play a role for the root-system morphology. Root-system morphology of polyploid Spartina-taxa was studied, quantifying root-tissue volume and root-aerenchyma volume of hexaploid Spartina alterniflora, Spartina maritima, and Spartina × townsendii as well as dodecaploid Spartina anglica from different habitats. Computed tomography (CT)-scan image analysis was applied to quantify the volume of roots and aerenchyma, and to determine the root-system structure (ratio of aerenchyma to root-tissue volumes) and aerenchyma connectivity. On average, Spartina-roots accounted for 12% (v/v) and root-aerenchyma accounted for 1% (v/v) of the soil volume in the pioneer marsh. About 90% (v/v) of all roots were associated with aerenchyma. Root-system structures of S. × townsendii and S. anglica differed and showed clear responses to habitat conditions, such as flooding regime and redox potential. The development of large well-connected aerenchyma fragments were specifically shown in S. anglica and to a minor extend in S. maritima. Aerenchyma in S. alterniflora and S. × townsendii consisted only of smaller fragments. Spartina-dominated tidal pioneer marsh soils show high connectivity with the atmosphere via root-aerenchyma. The high ploidy level in S. anglica comes along with high connectivity in root-aerenchyma.

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Primary Division
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Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
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DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149771

Cite as
Granse, D. , Titschack, J. , Ainouche, M. , Jensen, K. and Koop-Jakobsen, K. (2021): Subsurface aeration of tidal wetland soils: Root-system structure and aerenchyma connectivity in Spartina (Poaceae) , Science of The Total Environment, p. 149771 . doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149771



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