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Title: The effect of mechanical stimulation on root and shoot development of young containerized Quercus robur and Robinia pseudoacacia trees
Authors: Reubens, Bert ×
Pannemans, Barbara
Danjon, Frédéric
De Proft, Maurice
De Baets, Sarah
De Baerdemaeker, Josse
Poesen, Jean
Muys, Bart #
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Series Title: Trees vol:23 issue:6 pages:1213-1228
Abstract: Thigmomorphogenesis is a well-studied process
in agricultural crops and coniferous trees. Nevertheless,
the effects on both shoot and root characteristics for
deciduous woody species received little attention so far. In
this study, the objective was to understand the effect of
aboveground flexing treatments on the development of
structural, mechanical and physiological root and shoot
characteristics for two deciduous tree species, Black locust
(Robinia pseudoacacia L.) and English oak (Quercus robur
L.). Flexing treatments were performed using an electromechanical
device with a rotating arm touching and
bending the plants at regular intervals. A wide range of
stem, shoot as well as root system characteristics was
measured. The different flexing treatments altered aboveand
belowground plant development for both species, with
strongest effects on Quercus and most significant differences
between the control and the unidirectional flexing
treatment. Some responses are in accordance with previous
findings, such as stem eccentricity and reduced shoot
elongation under unidirectional flexing, but others are
renewing, such as the lower stomatal density and larger
epidermal cell surface for the Quercus plants under variable
flexing direction. Despite some common responses,
both species frequently differed in the way they were
affected. Belowground, Quercus plants under unidirectional
flexing invested relatively more in their first order
root and deeper second order roots, whereas Robinia plants
allocated relatively more to fine root biomass and horizontal
shallow roots. Both strategies potentially increased
pull-out as well as overturning resistance in their own way.
The presented findings are valid for young trees grown in
small containers. Based on practical know-how and shortcomings
experienced in the course of this experiment,
methodological recommendations are formulated. We
finally stress the complex variability in growth responses,
especially for root systems, observed in different studies
and related to dissimilarity in species, soil conditions, plant
history or type of mechanical perturbation.
ISSN: 0931-1890
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
Division of Crop Biotechnics
Division of Geography & Tourism
Division of Mechatronics, Biostatistics and Sensors (MeBioS)
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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