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Journal Articles Ecology and Evolution Year : 2018

Root exudation rate as functional trait involved in plant nutrient-use strategy classification

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Abstract

Plants adopt a variety of life history strategies to succeed in the Earth's diverse environments. Using functional traits which are defined as morphological, biochemical, physiological, or phonological characteristics measurable at the individual level, plants are classified according to their species' adaptative strategies, more than their taxonomy, from fast growing plant species to slower-growing conservative species. These different strategies probably influence the input and output of carbon (C)-resources, from the assimilation of carbon by photosynthesis to its release in the rhizosphere soil via root exudation. However, while root exudation was known to mediate plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere, it was not used as functional trait until recently. Here, we assess whether root exudate levels are useful plant functional traits in the classification of plant nutrient-use strategies and classical trait syndromes? For this purpose, we conducted an experiment with six grass species representing along a gradient of plant resource-use strategies, from conservative species, characterized by low biomass nitrogen (N) concentrations and a long lifespans, to exploitative species, characterized by high rates of photosynthesis and rapid rates of N acquisition. Leaf and root traits were measured for each grass and root exudate rate for each planted soil sample. Classical trait syndromes in plant ecology were found for leaf and root traits, with negative relationships observed between specific leaf area and leaf dry matter content or between specific root length and root dry matter content. However, a new root trait syndrome was also found with root exudation levels correlating with plant resource-use strategy patterns, specifically, between root exudation rate and root dry matter content. We therefore propose root exudation rate can be used as a key functional trait in plant ecology studies and plant strategy classification.

Dates and versions

hal-02152216 , version 1 (11-06-2019)

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Julien Guyonnet, Amélie A. M. Cantarel, Simon Laurent, Feth El Zahar Haichar. Root exudation rate as functional trait involved in plant nutrient-use strategy classification. Ecology and Evolution, 2018, 8 (16), pp.8573-8581. ⟨10.1002/ece3.4383⟩. ⟨hal-02152216⟩
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