The Morphology and Anatomy of Tree Roots and Their Aeration Strategies

  • Karen HaaseEmail author
  • Gudrun Rätsch
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 210)


Roots of woody species of the Amazonian inundation forest demonstrate morphological and anatomic traits, which enable the trees to withstand high water levels, massive oxygen shortage in the sediment and the synthesis of harmful substances in the plant organs and in the root environment. The formation of new, mainly adventitious roots under oxygen depleted conditions and the development of porous tissues at the stem near the floodwater surface or on the basal surface of the new roots results in a short distance between the atmosphere and the active regions of the roots and facilitates the entrance of oxygen into the tree. Enhanced root porosity, generated by uniformly distributed intercellular spaces, small lacunae or aerenchyma in the root cortex, develops both constitutively and as a response to waterlogging or flooding. An interconnection of these gas spaces provides a pathway for the release of volatile harmful metabolites to the atmosphere and an internal diffusive or pressurized oxygen transport from the aboveground organs to the roots. Many tree species show a potential for root aeration under simulated flooding conditions. A moderate transport can sufficiently supply root cells if the oxygen is conserved in the root by forming a “tight” suberin barrier in the exodermis. A superior oxygen transport to the roots allows for an oxygenation of the rhizosphere by massive oxygen loss via a very weak suberized exodermis. Both strategies protect the roots from penetration of harmful substances into the roots – either by sealing of roots or by oxidation processes outside the roots. The experiments were carried out with saplings of a few centimetres height cultivated under greenhouse conditions. Consequently, the results only permit limited conclusions about root adaptations of adult trees in the Amazonian inundation forest.


Adventitious Root Wetland Species Root Aeration Radial Oxygen Loss Aboveground Organ 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vocational School II, Food and GastronomoyLübeckGermany
  2. 2.Gewerbeschule II Nahrung und GastronomieLübeckGermany

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