Can differences in root responses to soil drying and compaction explain differences in performance of trees growing on landfill sites?

Jiansheng Liang, Jianhua Zhang, Yuk Sing Gilbert Chan, M. H. Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Two tropical woody species, Acacia confusa Merrill and Litsea glutinosa (Lour.) C.B. Robinson, were grown under controlled conditions in PVC pipes filled with John Innes No. 2 soil. To investigate root distribution, physiological characteristics and hydraulic conductivity, four soil treatments were imposed - well-watered and noncompacted (control), well-watered and compacted; unwatered and noncompacted, and unwatered and compacted. In L. glutinosa, rooting depth and root elongation were severely restricted when soil bulk density increased from around 1.12 to 1.62 g cm-3, whereas soil compaction had little effect on these parameters in A. confusa. As soil drying progressed, root water potential and osmotic potential declined more slowly in L. glutinosa than in A. confusa. Both the soil drying and compaction treatments significantly stimulated the accumulation of root abscisic acid (ABA) in both species. Soil drying damaged the root cell membrane of A. confusa, but had little influence on the root cell membrane of L. glutinosa. Soil drying had a greater effect on root hydraulic conductivity (L(p)) in L. glutinosa than in A. confusa, whereas the effect of soil compaction on L(p) was less in L. glutinosa than in A. confusa. Soil drying enhanced the effects of soil compaction on root L(p). We conclude that soil drying and compaction have large species-specific effects on the distribution, growth and physiology of roots. The relationships of these root properties to the species' ability to tolerate unfavorable soil conditions were examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-624
Number of pages6
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Abscisic acid
  • Acacia confusa
  • Litsea glutinosa
  • Root distribution
  • Root hydraulic conductivity
  • Root physiology
  • Soil compaction
  • Soil drying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

Cite this