Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2022, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (5): 593-601.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2021.0328

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Absorptive root anatomical traits of 26 tropical and subtropical fern species

XIANG Wei, HUANG Dong-Liu, ZHU Shi-Dan()   

  1. State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-bioresources, Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Conservation, College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China
  • Received:2021-09-10 Accepted:2021-12-22 Online:2022-05-20 Published:2022-02-16
  • Contact: ZHU Shi-Dan
  • Supported by:
    Bagui Young Scholarship of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region


Aims The plant absorptive roots function to absorb water and nutrients. Investigations of anatomical traits of the roots are to understanding environmental adaptations of plant species. Ferns in tropical and subtropical regions are abundant and of important ecological and economic values. However, the anatomical traits of the absorptive roots of ferns are not fully comprehended.

Methods We investigated anatomical traits of absorptive roots for 26 fern species from four typical tropical/ subtropical forests by analyzing inter-specific differences in the traits across the species to explain the influence of phylogeny and climate. In addition, we compiled relevant root traits of subtropical angiosperm tree species and temperate fern species from literature to explore the trait differences among the groups.

Important findings (1) We found significant differences in eight root anatomical traits among the 26 fern species, with coefficient of variation ranging from 20.61% to 41.75%. (2) Root traits showed no significant phylogeny signal except in cortex thickness (CT), indicating little affection from phylogeny. However, climate might exert significant impacts on root traits, i.e., root diameter (RD) and CT significantly increased with decreasing precipitation of the driest month (quarter). (3) As RD decreases, the subtropical angiosperm woody plants showed a significant decrease in the ratio of CT to stele diameter (SD), but fern had an opposite pattern. Compared to temperate ferns, the tropical and subtropical ferns had higher RD, CT, and tracheid diameter (TD).

Key words: absorptive root, climate, phylogeny, root diameter, cortex thickness, stele diameter