Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2008, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (6): 1268-1276.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2008.06.007

• Original article • Previous Articles     Next Articles


YANG Xiao-Lin1,2,3, ZHANG Xi-Ming1,*(), LI Yi-Ling1,2, LI Shao-Cai3, SUN Hai-Long3   

  1. 1Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
    2Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3Sichuan Lizi Eco-Technology Co., Ltd., Chengdu 610031, China
  • Received:2007-10-29 Accepted:2008-04-15 Online:2008-11-30 Published:2008-11-30
  • Contact: ZHANG Xi-Ming


Aims Root architectural properties can be divided into geometric properties and topological properties. Topological properties are believed to influence the efficiency and costs of resource exploitation in terms of carbon required for root segment construction.

Methods We excavated by shovel the coarse root systems of three natural species of the Taklimakan Desert area (Tamarix taklamakanensis, Calligonum roborovskii and Apocynum venetum) and analyzed aspects of root architecture, including topology, link length, diameter and scaling relations.

Important findings Root distribution was dominated by horizontal roots. Root branching pattern differed by species, withtopology the shrub T. taklamakanensistending to be dichotomous (qa=0.15, qb=0.09, TI=0.658) and C. roborovskii(qa=0.52, qb=0.38, TI=0.86) and nd the forbsthe root systems topology. The result indicated that A. venetum (qa=0.43, qb=0.35, TI=0.83) being herringbone-like. The lengths of links were very long for all species, with the shortest being 1.12 m. The different architectural strategies could be explained in terms of cost-benefits relations and efficiency in soil resource exploration and exploitation. We concluded that the differences and similarities of root architecture reflected strategy in exploitation and exploration. We also tested the “pipe-stem” theory, essentially dating back to Leonardo da Vinci, that underlies many models and found that our measurement data conformed with it. The ratio of the sum of root cross-sectional areas after and before bifurcation was constant with change of root diameters, so we proposed that the scaling coefficient1268/img_1.wmf10.010.0is the universal feature of root architecture.

Key words: Taklimakan Desert, root topology, topological indices, length of link, Leonardo da Vinci rule, daptive strategy