Specific root length as an indicator of environmental change

I. Ostonen, Ü. Püttsepp, C. Biel, O. Alberton, M.R. Bakker, K. Löhmus, H. Majdi, J.D. Metcalfe, A.F.M. Olsthoorn, A.A. Pronk, E. Vanguelova, M. Weih, I. Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

480 Citations (Scopus)


Specific root length (SRL, m g-1) is probably the most frequently measured morphological parameter of fine roots. It is believed to characterize economic aspects of the root system and to be indicative of environmental changes. The main objectives of this paper were to review and summarize the published SRL data for different tree species throughout Europe and to assess SRL under varying environmental conditions. Meta-analysis was used to summarize the response of SRL to the following manipulated environmental conditions: fertilization, irrigation, elevated temperature, elevated CO2, Al-stress, reduced light, heavy metal stress and physical disturbance of soil. SRL was found to be strongly dependent on the fine root classes, i.e. on the ectomycorrhizal short roots (ECM), and on the roots
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-442
JournalPlant Biosystems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • spruce picea-abies
  • elevated atmospheric co2
  • pine pinus-sylvestris
  • soil solution chemistry
  • potential growth-rate
  • fine-root
  • norway spruce
  • l. karst.
  • nutrient availability
  • silver birch


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