Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

Root zone temperature influences growth, partitioning, leaf morphology and physiology of the peach rootstock, Green Leaf Nemaguard

P. Malcolm A B , P. Holford A C , B. McGlasson A and J. Conroy A

A Centre for Plant and Food Science, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1790, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 4, Richmond, NSW 2753, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46(5) 689-696
Submitted: 17 January 2005  Accepted: 30 December 2005   Published: 12 May 2006


This paper examines the hypothesis that root zone temperature (RZT) affects the growth of stone fruit plants. This hypothesis was tested by growing plants of the peach rootstock, Green Leaf Nemaguard (Prunus persica L. Batsch), at a diurnally variable (26/15°C) or at constant (5, 15, 20°C) RZTs; the plants were either actively growing or emerging from dormancy when the treatments were applied. These trials demonstrated that RZT, independently of air temperature and light intensity, influences growth, dry matter partitioning, leaf morphology and physiological processes. The growth of plants emerging from dormancy was more sensitive to RZT than that of actively growing plants, therefore, phenology can influence sensitivity to RZT. The area, numbers and daily rates of expansion of leaves, correlated positively with RZT for both sets of plants. However, plants exposed to a diurnally variable 26/15°C RZT were smaller with respect to overall growth and aspects of leaf morphology than plants exposed to a constant 20°C RZT, despite the daily mean RZTs for both treatments being similar. This could be due to supraoptimal RZTs during the day and/or suboptimal RZTs at night. Root mass ratio, in both actively growing and plants exiting dormancy was highest at 20° RZT. In contrast, the stem mass ratio of actively growing plants was maximised at 5°C, and for plants exiting dormancy, the stem mass ratio was minimised at this RZT. RZTs influence the rate of leaf expansion, which in turn affects the total number of leaves and leaf area and, along with its effect on CO2 assimilation rates, results in reductions in DM production. This research illustrates the importance of RZTs, particularly in the spring, on growth and leaf development and suggests the need to incorporate RZT into development models for peaches.

Additional keywords: CO2 assimilation rate, dry mass partitioning, leaf morphology, Prunus persica, specific leaf area, stomatal conductance, transpiration rate.


Ali I Kafkahi U Sugimoto Y Inanga S 1994 Response of sand-grown tomato supplied with varying ratios of nitrate/ammonium to constant and variable root temperatures. Journal of Plant Nutrition 17 2001 2024

Ali I Kafkahi U Sugimoto Y Inanga S 1996 Effects of low root temperature on sap flow rate, soluble carbohydrates, nitrate contents and on cytokinin and gibberellin levels in root xylem exudate of sand-grown tomato. Journal of Plant Nutrition 19 619 634

Barlow EWR Boersma L Young JL 1977 Photosynthesis, transpiration and leaf elongation in corn seedlings at suboptimal soil temperatures. Agronomy Journal 69 95 100

Beauchamp EG Lathwell DJ 1966 Effect of root zone temperatures on corn leaf morphology. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 46 593 601

Berndt ML McCully ME Canny MJ 1999 Is xylem embolism and refilling involved in the rapid wilting and recovery of plants following root cooling and rewarming? Plant Biology 1 506 515

Delucia EH 1986 Effect of low root temperature on net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and carbohydrate concentration in Engelmann spruce (Picea eigelmannii Parry ex Engelm) seedlings. Tree Physiology 2 143 154

Delucia EH Day T Oquest G 1991 The potential for photoinhibition of Pinus sylvestris L. seedlings exposed to high light and low soil temperature. Journal of Experimental Botany 42 611 617

Dodd I He J Turnbull CG Lee SK Critchley C 2000 The influence of supra-optimal root zone temperatures on growth and stomatal conductance in Capsicum annuum L. Journal of Experimental Botany 51 239 248

Gosselin A Trudel M 1983 Interactions between air and root temperatures on greenhouse tomato I. Growth, development, and yield. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 108 901 905

Gosselin A Trudel M 1986 Root zone temperature effects on pepper. Journal of American Society for Horticulture Science 111 220 224

Graves WR Aiello AS 1997 High root zone temperature causes similar changes in water relations and growth of silver maples from 33° and 44°N latitude. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 122 195 199

Grobbelaar W 1963 Responses of young maize plants to root temperatures. Meded Landbhogesch Wageningen 63 1 71

Hansen P 1967 14C-studies on apple trees. I. The effect of fruit on the translocation and distribution of photosynthates. Physiologia Plantarum 20 382 391

Hansen P 1971 14C-studies on apple trees. VII. The early seasonal growth in leaves, flowers and shoots as dependant upon current photosynthates and existing reserves. Physiologia Plantarum 25 469 473

Hansen P Grausland J 1973 14 C-studies on apple trees. VIII. The seasonal variation and nature of reserves. Physiologia Plantarum 28 24 32

He J Lee SK 1998 a Growth and photosynthesis responses of three aeroponically grown lettuce cultivars (Lactuca sativa L.) to different root zone temperatures and growth irradiances under tropical aerial conditions. The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 73 173 180

He J Lee SK 1998 b Growth and photosynthetic characteristics of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) under fluctuating hot ambient temperatures with the manipulation of cool root zone temperature. Journal of Plant Physiology 152 387 391

Kleinendorst A Veen B 1983 Responses of young cucumber plants to root and shoot temperatures. Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 31 47 61

Landhausser SM Wein RM Lange P 1996 Gas exchange and growth of three arctic tree line species under different soil temperature and drought preconditioning regimes. Canadian Journal of Botany 74 686 693

Lee S Cheong S 1996 Inducing head formation of iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) in the tropics through root zone temperature control. Tropical Agriculture 73 34 42

Lee TM Lur HS Chu C 1993 Role of abscisic acid in chilling tolerance of rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings. 1. Endogenous abscisic acid levels. Plant, Cell and Environment 16 481 490

Lyr H 1996 Effect of root temperature on growth parameters of various European tree species. Annales Des Sciences Forestieres 53 317 323

Menzel C Turner D Doogan V Simpson D 1994 Root shoot interactions in passionfruit (Passiflora sp.) under the influence of changing root volumes and soil temperatures. Journal of Horticultural Science 69 553 564

Milligan SP Dale JE 1988 a The effects of root treatments on growth of the primary leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris L.: general features. New Phytologist 108 27 35

Milligan SP Dale JE 1988 b The effects of root treatments on growth of the primary leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris L. Biophysical analysis. New Phytologist 109 35 40

Okie WR (1998) Handbook of peach and nectarine varieties: performance in SE United States and index of names. USDA Agricultural Handbook No. 714. USDA, ARS, Springfield.

Pardossi A Pritchard J Tomas AD 1994 Leaf illumination and root cooling inhibit bean leaf expansion by decreasing turgor pressure. Journal of Experimental Botany 45 415 422

Priestley CA 1962 Carbohydrate resources within the perennial plant. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau Technical Bulletin 27 116

Richards D Rowe RN 1977 Effects of root restriction, root pruning and 6-benzylaminopurine on the growth of peach seedlings. Annals of Botany 41 729 740

Smith PG Dale JE 1988 The effects of root cooling and excision treatments on the growth of primary leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris L. Rapid and reversible increases in abscisic acid content. The New Phytologist 110 293 300

Smoliak S Johnston A 1968 Germination and early growth of grasses at four root-zone temperatures. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 48 119 127

Stassen PJC Strydom DK Stindt HW 1981 Seasonal changes in carbohydrate fractions of young Kakamas peach trees. Agroplantae 13 47 53

Wilkins LC Graves WR Townsend AM 1995 Responses to high root zone temperatures among cultivars of red maple and Freeman maple. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 13 82 85

Export Citation Cited By (2)