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Allocation of carbon to shoots, roots, soil and rhizosphere respiration by barrel medic (Medicago truncatula) before and after defoliation

Michael C. Crawford, Peter R. Grace and J. Malcolm Oades
Plant and Soil
Vol. 227, No. 1/2 (2000), pp. 67-75
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42950913
Page Count: 9
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Allocation of carbon to shoots, roots, soil and rhizosphere respiration by barrel medic (Medicago truncatula) before and after defoliation
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Abstract

The allocation of carbon to shoots, roots, soil and rhizosphere respiration in barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) before and after defoliation was determined by growing plants in pots in a labelled atmosphere in a growth cabinet. Plants were grown in a ¹³CO₂-labelled atmosphere for 30 days, defoliated and then grown in a ¹³CO₂-labelled atmosphere for 19 days. Allocation of ¹⁴CO-labelled C to shoots, roots, soil and rhizosphere respiration was determined before defoliation and the allocation of ¹⁴CO and ¹³C was determined for the period after defoliation. Before defoliation, 38.4% of assimilated C was allocated below ground, whereas after defoliation it was 19.9%. Over the entire length of the experiment, the proportion of net assimilated carbon allocated below ground was 30.3%. Of this, 46% was found in the roots, 22% in the soil and 32% was recovered as rhizosphere respiration. There was no net translocation of assimilate from roots to new shoot tissue after defoliation, indicating that all new shoot growth arose from above-ground stores and newly assimilated carbon. The rate of rhizosphere respiration decreased immediately after defoliation, but after 8 days, was at comparable levels to those before defoliation. It was not until 14 days after defoliation that the amount of respiration from newly assimilated C (¹³C) exceeded that of C assimilated before defoliation (¹⁴C).

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