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Title: Roots and Root Function: Introduction

item Skaggs, Todd
item Shouse, Peter

Submitted to: Vadose Zone Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2008
Publication Date: 8/15/2008
Citation: Skaggs, T.H., Shouse, P.J. 2008. Roots and Root Function: Introduction. Vadose Zone Journal. 7(3):1008-1009.

Interpretive Summary: Like most things that exist underground, plant roots are out-of-sight and easily forgotten. But while flowers, leaves, and other aboveground plant parts are more familiar, plant roots are equally deserving of our appreciation: beneath every towering tree, tasty crop, and dazzling ornamental lies a root system that makes it all possible. Roots provide anchor and support for plants, extract water and nutrients from soil, and reduce soil erosion. A number of current issues related to water availability and climate change are giving impetus to new research aimed at roots and their functioning. The research is producing new experimental methods, data acquisition, and theoretical understanding. Recently, scientists from the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, assembled a collection of new research in the form of 13 papers which are published as a special section of the August issue of Vadose Zone Journal. The special section should stimulate future work that will lead to a better scientific understanding of plant roots and their functioning.

Technical Abstract: A number of current issues related to water management, ecohydrology, and climate change are giving impetus to new research aimed at understanding roots and their functioning. Current areas of research include: use of advanced imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging to observe roots, root growth, and water and nutrient uptake processes; development of new field instrumentation for measuring soil conditions in the root zone; creation of computer simulation models and their use in investigations of water and chemical movement in the vadose zone; studies of root distributions and functioning at the species and biome levels; and functioning of roots in zero-gravity environments.