Root-shoot allometry of tropical forest trees determined in a large-scale aeroponic system

Amram Eshel*, José M. Grünzweig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background and AimsThis study is a first step in a multi-stage project aimed at determining allometric relationships among the tropical tree organs, and carbon fluxes between the various tree parts and their environment. Information on canopy-root interrelationships is needed to improve understanding of above-and below-ground processes and for modelling of the regional and global carbon cycle. Allometric relationships between the sizes of different plant parts will be determined.MethodsTwo tropical forest species were used in this study: Ceiba pentandra (kapok), a fast-growing tree native to South and Central America and to Western Africa, and Khaya anthotheca (African mahogany), a slower-growing tree native to Central and Eastern Africa. Growth and allometric parameters of 12-month-old saplings grown in a large-scale aeroponic system and in 50-L soil containers were compared. The main advantage of growing plants in aeroponics is that their root systems are fully accessible throughout the plant life, and can be fully recovered for harvesting.Key ResultsThe expected differences in shoot and root size between the fast-growing C. pentandra and the slower-growing K. anthotheca were evident in both growth systems. Roots were recovered from the aeroponically grown saplings only, and their distribution among various diameter classes followed the patterns expected from the literature. Stem, branch and leaf allometric parameters were similar for saplings of each species grown in the two systems.ConclusionsThe aeroponic tree growth system can be utilized for determining the basic allometric relationships between root and shoot components of these trees, and hence can be used to study carbon allocation and fluxes of whole above-and below-ground tree parts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


  • Aeroponics
  • African mahogany
  • Ceiba pentandra
  • Khaya anthotheca
  • allometry
  • root-shoot relationships
  • specific root length
  • wood density


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