Control of soil physical properties and response ofBrassica rapa L. seedling roots
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A system was designed, constructed, tested, and used to growBrassica rapa L. seedling roots which were exposed to O2 concentrations from 0 to 0.21 mol mol−1, water potentials from 0 to −80 kPa, temperatures from 10 to 34°C, and mechanical impedance from 0 to 20.8 kPa. The experimental design was a central composite rotatable design with seven replications of the center point. Measurements were taken of taproot length, taproot diameter at the point of initiation of root hairs (diameter 1), and one cm above the first measurement (diameter 2), and total length and number of first-order laterals.
Temperature had the greatest effect on seedling root growth, with linear and quadratic temperature effects significant for all root measurements except taproot diameter 2 which just had a significant linear effect. Water potential had a significant linear effect on lateral length and number of laterals and a significant quadratic effect on taproot diameter 1. Mechanical impedance had a significant effect only on taproot diameter 2. Oxygen was not significant for any root measurement. The mechanical impedance by water potential interaction was significant for taproot length and taproot diameter 1.
A temperature optimum was found for taproot length, taproot diameter 1, lateral length, and lateral number, at 26.0, 42.5, 26.5, and 26.4°C, respectively. Taproot diameter 1 had a water potential optimum at −36.5 kPa, whereas taproot diameter 2 had a mechanical impedance optimum at 12.5 kPa.
A growth cell designed for this study allows independent control of soil strength, water potential, oxygen concentration, and temperature. Thus, the cell provides the capability which was demonstrated forBrassica rapa L. to grow seedling roots under complete control of the soil physical properties.
Key wordsmechanical impedance oxygen response surface root diameter root length root number temperature water potential
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