AoB PLANTS

DNA analysis of soil extracts can be used to investigate fine root depth distribution of trees

Mango tree in rootstock field trial with six soil coring positions 0.5 m from trunk marked by red tape on wire pegs (image source: S.L. Bithell).
Mango tree in rootstock field trial with six soil coring positions 0.5 m from trunk marked by red tape on wire pegs (image source: S.L. Bithell).

Knowledge of a tree species’ or cultivar’s fine root distribution is important. However, the time and resource requirements of established soil core based methods where live from dead root determination is required, act as a constraint to large studies. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Bithell et al. developed a method to determine live fine root DNA density for mango (Mangifera indica). Large roots were separated from soil samples by sieving (min. 2 mm aperture) and DNA extraction was performed on the sieved soil containing fine root fragments that had passed through the sieve. The authors showed that the DNA yields of these samples could determine fine root distribution.

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