The Vertical Distribution of Roots, Mycorrhizal Mycelia and Nutrient Acquisition in Mature Forest Trees

Hans Göransson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The vertical distribution of the nutrient uptake of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) has been investigated in southern Scandinavia. Two approaches were employed. The first involved estimation of the nutrient uptake capacity of the trees at different soil depths by determining the distributions of roots, external ectomycorrhizal mycelia (EEM) and the nutrient uptake capacity of the roots located at different soil depths. The fine root biomass and length (Ø<1 mm) were determined down to a soil depth of 55 cm. The amount of EEM was estimated by measurements of the PLFA 18.2w6,9 using a new incubation technique. It was thus possible to separate the ectomycorrhizal and saprophytic mycelia. The uptake capacity of fine roots was determined by root bioassays using labelled rubidium, 86Rb+ (an analogue to potassium (K)), and ammonium 15NH4+. In the second method, direct measurements of the relative uptake capacity of the trees from different soil depths were made by injection of 15NH4+, labelled phosphorus (H232PO4- and H233PO4-) and caesium (another analogue to K) into the soil, and after 21-339 days the tracers were recovered in the foliage.

Generally, the amount of EEM seemed to follow the root distribution. The uptake capacity of 86Rb+ by fine roots decreased with soil depth for oak, but was similar in beech and Norway spruce irrespective of soil depth. The nutrient uptake capacity of the tree was estimated by multiplying the root weight by the uptake capacity of the roots at the different soil horizons, as EEM followed the root distribution. In oak, the estimated uptake of K from 50 cm soil depth relative to 5 cm was lower than in beech and Norway spruce due to the low uptake capacity of the oak's fine roots in deep soil layers. Direct measurements of the K uptake capacity of trees confirmed that the oaks had a lower uptake capacity at greater soil depth than beech and Norway spruce. The relative uptake of K and N from 50 cm soil depth was higher using direct measurements than estimates using the first method. This was probably due to extensive overlapping of the soil volumes around the roots and hyphae from which nutrients can diffuse in the top layer, which decreases the uptake per unit root length. The results show that the nutrient uptake dose not always follow the root and EEM distribution in forest soils. This may be due to an overcapacity of nutrient uptake for mobile ions in the top layer and/or differences in the nutrient uptake capacity of roots at different soil depths.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Biology
  • Falkengren-Grerup, Ursula, Supervisor
Award date2006 Feb 24
Print ISBNs91-7105-233-X
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2006-02-24
Time: 10:00
Place: Blå Hallen at the department of ecology, Ecology building, Sölvegatan 37

External reviewer(s)

Name: Godbold, Douglas
Title: Professor
Affiliation: School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, UK


<div class="article_info">Erland Bååth, Lars-Ola Nilsson, Hans Göransson and Håkan Wallander. <span class="article_issue_date">2004</span>. <span class="article_title">Can the extent of degradation of soil fungal mycelium during soil incubation be used to estimate ectomycorrhizal biomass in soil?</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Soil Biology & Biochemistry</span>, <span class="journal_volume">vol 36</span> <span class="journal_pages">pp 2105-2109</span>. <span class="journal_distributor">Department of ecology, Lund university</span></div>
<div class="article_info">Håkan Wallander, Hans Göransson and Ulrika Rosengren. <span class="article_issue_date">2004</span>. <span class="article_title">Production, standing biomass and 15N/ 13C abundance of ectomycorrhizal mycelia at different soil depths in Norway spruce forests and mixed (Norway spruce-oak) forests in southern Sweden</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Oecologia</span>, <span class="journal_volume">vol 139</span> <span class="journal_pages">pp 89-97</span>. <span class="journal_distributor">Department of ecology, Lund university</span></div>
<div class="article_info">Hans Göransson, Ulrika Rosengren, Håkan Wallander, Ann-Mari Fransson and Gunnar Thelin. <span class="article_issue_date">2006</span>. <span class="article_title">Nutrient acquisition from different soil depths by pedunculate oak</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Trees</span>, (accepted)</div>
<div class="article_info">Hans Göransson, Håkan Wallander, Morten Ingerslev and Ulrika Rosengren. <span class="article_issue_date"></span>. <span class="article_title">Estimating potential nutrient uptake from different soil depths of Quercus robur, Fagus sylvatica, and Picea abies</span> <span class="journal_distributor">Department of ecology, Lund university</span> (submitted)</div>
<div class="article_info">Hans Göransson and Morten Ingerslev. <span class="article_issue_date"></span>. <span class="article_title">The vertical distribution of N and K uptake in mature Quercus robur, Fagus sylvatica and Picea abies stands</span> <span class="journal_distributor">Department of ecology, Lund university</span> (manuscript)</div>

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Plant Ecology and Systematics (Closed 2011) (011004000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology


  • Plant ecology
  • Växtekologi
  • isotopes
  • Root bioassay
  • Mixed stands
  • Picea abies
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Quercus robur
  • PLFA
  • Root distribution
  • Ectomycorrhiza


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