CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Functional Plant Biology   
Functional Plant Biology
Journal Banner
  Plant Function & Evolutionary Biology
 
blank image Search
 
blank image blank image
blank image
 
  Advanced Search
   

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Contacts
Content
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Reviews
Evolutionary Reviews
Sample Issue
Call for Papers
For Authors
General Information
Scope
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
Awards and Prizes
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn

red arrow PrometheusWiki
blank image
PrometheusWiki
Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology

 

Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 39(11)

Pot size matters: a meta-analysis of the effects of rooting volume on plant growth

Hendrik Poorter A C, Jonas Bühler A, Dagmar van Dusschoten A, José Climent B and Johannes A. Postma A

A IBG-2 Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, D-52425, Germany.
B INIA, Forest Research Centre, Department of Forest Ecology and Genetics, Avda A Coruña Km 7.5., 28040 Madrid, Spain.
C Corresponding author. Email: h.poorter@fz-juelich.de

Functional Plant Biology 39(11) 839-850 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP12049
Submitted: 16 February 2012  Accepted: 11 May 2012   Published: 15 June 2012


 
 Full Text
 PDF (650 KB)
 Supplementary Material
 Export Citation
 Print
  
Abstract

The majority of experiments in plant biology use plants grown in some kind of container or pot. We conducted a meta-analysis on 65 studies that analysed the effect of pot size on growth and underlying variables. On average, a doubling of the pot size increased biomass production by 43%. Further analysis of pot size effects on the underlying components of growth suggests that reduced growth in smaller pots is caused mainly by a reduction in photosynthesis per unit leaf area, rather than by changes in leaf morphology or biomass allocation. The appropriate pot size will logically depend on the size of the plants growing in them. Based on various lines of evidence we suggest that an appropriate pot size is one in which the plant biomass does not exceed 1 g L–1. In current research practice ~65% of the experiments exceed that threshold. We suggest that researchers need to carefully consider the pot size in their experiments, as small pots may change experimental results and defy the purpose of the experiment.

Additional keywords: container volume, experimental setup, meta-analysis, pot size, plant growth, rooting volume.


References

Arp W (1991) Effects of source–sink relations on photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2. Plant, Cell & Environment 14, 869–875.
CrossRef | CAS |

Bååth E, Hayman DS (1984) Effect of soil volume and plant density on mycorrhizal infection and growth response. Plant and Soil 77, 373–376.
CrossRef |

Baldwin IT (1988) Damage-induced alkaloids in tobacco: pot-bound plants are not inducible. Journal of Chemical Ecology 14, 1113–1120.
CrossRef | CAS |

Bar-Tal A, Pressman E (1996) Root restriction and potassium and calcium solution concentrations affect dry-matter production, cation uptake, and blossom-end rot in greenhouse tomato. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 121, 649–655.

Bar-Yosef B, Schwartz S, Markovich T, Lucas B, Assaf R (1988) Effect of root volume and nitrate solution concentration on growth, fruit yield, and temporal N and water uptake by apple trees. Plant and Soil 107, 49–56.
CrossRef | CAS |

Barrett DJ, Gifford RM (1995) Photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2 in relation to biomass allocation in cotton. Journal of Biogeography 22, 331–339.
CrossRef |

Bengough A, Mullins C (1991) Penetrometer resistance, root penetration resistance and root elongation rate in two sandy loam soils. Plant and Soil 131, 59–66.

Bilderback T (1985) Growth response of Leyland cypress to media, N application and container size after 1 and 2 growing seasons. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 3, 132–135.

Biran I, Eliassaf A (1980) The effect of container size and aeration conditions on growth of roots and canopy of woody plants. Scientia Horticulturae 12, 385–394.
CrossRef |

Bunt AC, Kulwiec ZJ (1970) The effect of container porosity on root environment and plant growth. I. Temperature. Plant and Soil 32, 65–80.
CrossRef |

Carlson LW, Endean F (1976) The effect of rooting volume and container configuration on the early growth of white spruce seedlings. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 6, 221–224.
CrossRef |

Carmi A, Hesketh JD, Enos WT, Peters DB (1983) Interrelationships between shoot growth and photosynthesis, as affected by root growth restriction. Photosynthetica 17, 240–245.

Centritto M (2000) Source-sink relations affect growth but not the allocation pattern of birch (Betula pendula Roth) seedlings under elevated [CO2]. Plant Biosystems 134, 31–37.
CrossRef |

Climent J, Alonso J, Gil L (2008) Short note: root restriction hindered early allometric differentiation between seedlings of two provenances of Canary Island pine. Silvae Genetica 57, 4–5.

Climent J, Chambel MR, Pardos M, Lario F, Villar-Salvador P (2011) Biomass allocation and foliage heteroblasty in hard pine species respond differentially to reduction in rooting volume. European Journal of Forest Research 130, 841–850.
CrossRef |

de Vries MPC (1980) How reliable are results of pot experiments? Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 11, 895–902.
CrossRef | CAS |

Drew MC (1975) Comparison of the effects of a localized supply of phosphate, nitrate, ammonium and potassium on the growth of the seminal root system, and the shoot, in barley. New Phytologist 75, 479–490.
CrossRef | CAS |

Endean F, Carlson L (1975) The effect of rooting volume on the early growth of lodgepole pine seedlings. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 5, 55–60.
CrossRef |

Evans GC (1972) ‘The quantitative analysis of plant growth.’ (Blackwell Scientific Publications: Oxford)

Falik O, Reides P, Gersani M, Novoplansky A (2005) Root navigation by self inhibition. Plant, Cell & Environment 28, 562–569.
CrossRef |

Fusseder A (1987) The longevity and activity of the primary root of maize. Plant and Soil 101, 257–265.
CrossRef |

Granier C, Aguirrezabal L, Chenu K, Cookson SJ, Dauzat M, Hamard P, Thioux JJ, Rolland G, Bouchier-Combaud S, Lebaudy A, Muller B, Simonneau T, Tardieu F (2006) PHENOPSIS, an automated platform for reproducible phenotyping of plant responses to soil water deficit in Arabidopsis thaliana permitted the identification of an accession with low sensitivity to soil water deficit. New Phytologist 169, 623–635.
CrossRef |

Herold A, McNeil PH (1979) Restoration of photosynthesis in pot-bound tobacco plants. Journal of Experimental Botany 30, 1187–1194.
CrossRef | CAS |

Hess L, De Kroon H (2007) Effects of rooting volume and nutrient availability as an alternative explanation for root self/non-self discrimination. Journal of Ecology 95, 241–251.
CrossRef |

Houle G, Babeux P (1998) The effects of collection date, IBA, plant gender, nutrient availability, and rooting volume on adventitious root and lateral shoot formation by Salix planifolia stem cuttings from the Ungava Bay area (Quebec, Canada). Canadian Journal of Botany 76, 1687–1692.

Hsu Y, Tseng M, Lin C (1996) Container volume affects growth and development of wax-apple. HortScience 31, 1139–1142.

Ismail AM, Hall AE, Bray EA (1994) Drought and pot size effects on transpiration efficiency and carbon isotope discrimination of cowpea. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 21, 23–35.
CrossRef |

Jackson MB (1993) Are plant hormones involved in root to shoot communication. Advances in Botanical Research 19, 103–187.
CrossRef | CAS |

Jackson RB, Canadell J, Ehleringer JR, Mooney HA, Sala OE, Schulze ED (1996) A global analysis of root distributions for terrestrial biomes. Oecologia 108, 389–411.
CrossRef |

Jahnke S, Menzel I, Van Dusschoten D, Roeb GW, Bühler J, Minwuyelet S, Blümler P, Temperton VM, Hombach T, Streun M, Beer S, Khodaverdi M, Ziemons K, Coenen HH, Schurr U (2009) Combined MRI–PET dissects dynamic changes in plant structures and functions. The Plant Journal 59, 634–644.
CrossRef | CAS |

Keever GJ, Cobb GS, McDaniel R (1986) Effects of container size, root pruning, and fertilization on growth of seedling pecans. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 4, 11–13.

Kerstiens G, Hawes C (1994) Response of growth and carbon allocation to elevated CO2 in young cherry (Prunus avium L.) saplings in relation to root environment. New Phytologist 128, 607–614.
CrossRef |

Kharkina T, Ottosen CO, Rosenqvist E (1999) Effects of root restriction on the growth and physiology of cucumber plants. Physiologia Plantarum 105, 434–441.
CrossRef | CAS |

Koide RT (1991) Density-dependent response to mycorrhizal infection in Abutilon theophrasti Medic. Oecologia 85, 389–395.
CrossRef |

Krizek DT, Carmi A, Mirecki RM, Snyder FW, Bunce JA (1985) Comparative effects of soil moisture stress and restricted root zone volume on morphogenetic and physiological responses of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.). Journal of Experimental Botany 36, 25–38.
CrossRef |

Kucey RMN, Janzen H (1987) Effects of VAM and reduced nutrient availability on growth and phosphorus and micronutrient uptake of wheat and field beans under greenhouse conditions. Plant and Soil 104, 71–78.
CrossRef | CAS |

Liu A, Latimer JG (1995) Water relations and abscisic acid levels of watermelon as affected by rooting volume restriction. Journal of Experimental Botany 46, 1011–1015.
CrossRef | CAS |

Lynch JP, Lauchli A, Epstein E (1991) Vegetative growth of the common bean in response to phosphorus nutrition. Crop Science 31, 380–387.
CrossRef | CAS |

Markham JW, Bremer DJ, Boyer CR, Schroeder KR (2011) Effect of container color on substrate temperatures and growth of red maple and redbud. HortScience 46, 721–726.

Martini CA, Ingram DL, Nell TA (1991) Growth and photosynthesis of Magnolia grandiflora ‘St Mary’ in response to constant and increased container volume. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 116, 439–445.

McConnaughay KDM, Berntson G, Bazzaz F (1993) Limitations to CO2-induced growth enhancement in pot studies. Oecologia 94, 550–557.
CrossRef |

McGinley M, Smith C, Elliott P, Higgins J (1990) Morphological constraints on seed mass in lodgepole pine. Functional Ecology 4, 183–192.
CrossRef |

Nagel KA, Putz A, Gilmer F, Heinz K, Fischbach A, Pfeifer J, Faget M, Bloßfeld S, Ernst M, Dimaki C, Kastenholz B, Kleinert AK, Galinski A, Scharr H, Fiorani F, Schurr U (2012) GROWSCREEN-Rhizo is a novel phenotyping robot enabling simultaneous measurements of root and shoot growth for plants grown in soil-filled rhizotrons. Functional Plant Biology 39, 891–904.
CrossRef |

NeSmith DS (1993) Summer squash response to root restriction under different light regimes 1. Journal of Plant Nutrition 16, 765–780.
CrossRef |

NeSmith DS, Duval JR (1998) The effect of container size. HortTechnology 8, 495–498.

NeSmith DS, Bridges DC, Barbour JC (1992) Bell pepper responses to root restriction. Journal of Plant Nutrition 15, 2763–2776.
CrossRef |

Nobel PS, Cui M, Miller PM, Luo Y (1994) Influences of soil volume and an elevated CO2 level on growth and CO2 exchange for the crassulacean acid metabolism plant Opuntia ficus-indica. Physiologia Plantarum 90, 173–180.
CrossRef | CAS |

Passioura JB (2006) The peril of pot experiments. Functional Plant Biology 33, 1075–1079.
CrossRef |

Paul MJ, Pellny TK (2003) Carbon metabolite feedback regulation of leaf photosynthesis and development. Journal of Experimental Botany 54, 539–547.
CrossRef | CAS |

Poorter H (2002) Plant growth and carbon economy. In ‘Encyclopedia of life sciences’. (Nature Publishing Group: London) Available at: http://www.els.net

Poorter H, Navas ML (2003) Plant growth and competition at elevated CO2: on winners, losers and functional groups. New Phytologist 157, 175–198.
CrossRef |

Poorter H, Niinemets Ü, Walter A, Fiorani F, Schurr U (2010) A method to construct dose–response curves for a wide range of environmental factors and plant traits by means of a meta-analysis of phenotypic data. Journal of Experimental Botany 61, 2043–2055.
CrossRef | CAS |

Poorter H, Fiorani F, Stitt M, Schurr U, Finck A, Gibon Y, Usadel B, Munns R, Atkin OK, Tardieu F, Pons TL (2012a) The art of growing plants for experimental purposes; a practical guide for the plant biologist. Functional Plant Biology 39, 839–850.
CrossRef |

Poorter H, Niklas KJ, Reich PB, Oleksyn J, Poot P, Mommer L (2012b) Biomass allocation to leaves, stems and roots: meta-analyses of interspecific variation and environmental control. Tansley Review. New Phytologist 193, 30–50.
CrossRef | CAS |

Price AH, Steele KA, Gorham J, Bridges JM, Moore BJ, Evans JL, Richardson P, Jones RGW (2002) Upland rice grown in soil-filled chambers and exposed to contrasting water-deficit regimes. I. Root distribution, water use and plant water status. Field Crops Research 76, 11–24.
CrossRef |

R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. (R Foundation for Statistical Computing: Vienna, Austria) Available at: http://www.R-project.org/

Ray JD, Sinclair TR (1998) The effect of pot size on growth and transpiration of maize and soybean during water deficit stress. Journal of Experimental Botany 49, 1381–1386.

Robbins NS, Pharr DM (1988) Effect of restricted root growth on carbohydrate metabolism and whole plant growth of Cucumis sativus L. Plant Physiology 87, 409–413.

Ronchi CP, DaMatta FM, Batista KD, Moraes GABK, Loureiro ME, Ducatti C (2006) Growth and photosynthetic down-regulation in Coffea arabica in response to restricted root volume. Functional Plant Biology 33, 1013–1023.
CrossRef |

Rune G (2003) Slits in container wall improve root structure and stem straightness of outplanted scots pine seedlings. Silva Fennica 37, 333–342.

Sinclair TR, Horie T (1989) Leaf nitrogen, photosynthesis, and crop radiation use efficiency: a review. Crop Science 29, 90–98.
CrossRef |

Suriyagoda LDB, Ryan MH, Renton M, Lambers H (2010) Multiple adaptive responses of Australian native perennial legumes with pasture potential to grow in phosphorus- and moisture-limited environments. Annals of Botany 105, 755–767.
CrossRef | CAS |

Thomas RB, Strain BR (1991) Root restriction as a factor in photosynthetic acclimation of cotton seedlings grown in elevated carbon dioxide. Plant Physiology 96, 627–634.
CrossRef | CAS |

Townend J, Dickinson AL (1995) A comparison of rooting environments in containers of different sizes. Plant and Soil 175, 139–146.
CrossRef | CAS |

Tschaplinski TJ, Blake TJ (1985) Effects of root restriction on growth correlations, water relations and senescence of alder seedlings. Physiologia Plantarum 64, 167–176.
CrossRef |

Unkovich M, Baldock J, Forbes M (2010) Variability in harvest index of grain crops and potential significance for carbon accounting: examples from Australian agriculture. Advances in Agronomy 105, 173–219.
CrossRef |

von Felten S, Schmid B (2008) Complementarity among species in horizontal versus vertical rooting space. Journal of Plant Ecology 1, 33–41.
CrossRef |

Will R, Teskey R (1997) Effect of elevated carbon dioxide concentration and root restriction on net photosynthesis, water relations and foliar carbohydrate status of loblolly pine seedlings. Tree Physiology 17, 655–661.
CrossRef |

Xu G, Wolf S, Kafkafi U (2001) Interactive effect of nutrient concentration and container volume on flowering, fruiting, and nutrient uptake of sweet pepper. Journal of Plant Nutrition 24, 479–501.
CrossRef | CAS |

Young IM, Montagu K, Conroy J, Bengough AG (1997) Mechanical impedance of root growth directly reduces leaf elongation rates of cereals. New Phytologist 135, 613–619.
CrossRef |


   
 
    
Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help

CSIRO

© CSIRO 1996-2016