Morphological plasticity of cotton roots in response to interspecific competition with pecan in an alleycropping system in the southern United States

D. S. Zamora, S. Jose, P. K.R. Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

A study was conducted in northwest Florida, USA, to investigate root development and morphology of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) under pecan (Carya illinoensis K. Koch) trees in an alleycropping experiment. Root:shoot ratio, root biomass, total root length and root length density were examined under three treatments: (1) barrier (separating belowground interspecific competition by trenching to a depth of 120 cm and installing polyethylene barrier), (2) non-barrier (root systems were free to interact), and (3) monoculture of cotton (without above and belowground interspecific competition with trees). Results indicated that plants in the barrier and non-barrier treatments had lower root:shoot ratios compared to the monoculture treatment. Belowground competition for resources between pecan and cotton in the non-barrier treatment resulted in 25 and 33% reduction of total root length (359 cm) when compared to that of the barrier (477 cm) and monoculture (539 cm) treatments, respectively. The non-barrier plants also exhibited the lowest root length density. Specific root length was highest for the monoculture (179 cm g-1) and lowest for the non-barrier treatment (146 cm g-1) with the barrier treatment being intermediate (165 cm g-1). Interspecific competition with pecan significantly altered root development and morphology of cotton plants. Research in agroforestry should take into account the developmental differences in root systems of the associated crop species so that better models incorporating nutrient and water uptake can be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Volume69
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007

Keywords

  • Root length density
  • Root-shoot ratio
  • Specific root length
  • WinRhizo

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