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Quantifying species composition in root mixtures using root microscopic and histochemical techniques
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  • Affendy Hassan,
  • Kristian Thorup-Kristensen,
  • Kirsten Jørgensen,
  • Dorte Dresbøll
Affendy Hassan
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

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Kristian Thorup-Kristensen
University of Copenhagen
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Kirsten Jørgensen
University of Copenhagen
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Dorte Dresbøll
University of Copenhagen
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Abstract

The objectives of this study were; (i) to develop and test an anatomical key using histochemical staining to identify roots to the plant species level, and (ii) to demonstrate that it could use this method to quantify the proportion of individual plant roots from different intercropping combinations, and how the fraction of the roots were affected by nitrogen supply and soil depth. Roots of oilseed rape, lucerne, red beet, wheat, barley, and millet were produced in a greenhouse, washed free of soil and bundles of roots from each of the species were embedded in agarose, cut on a microtome and stained with FSA (Fuchsin, Safranin O and Astrablue). A root identification key was developed based on root cross sections from the single species root samples. From the anatomical identification key, it was possible to identify roots of individual species in root mixtures. The anatomical key also made it possible to distinguish roots from the intercropping experiment. Root cross sections followed by histochemical staining was shown to be a useful and simple method for studying root interactions as well as the fractions of roots from two intercropping combinations due to different of nitrogen supply and soil depth in intercropping.