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Tree Physiol. 1999 Jul;19(9):599-605.

Direct inhibition of maintenance respiration in western hemlock roots exposed to ambient soil carbon dioxide concentrations.

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  • 1Department of Forest Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA.


Root respiration often exhibits a direct and immediate decline with increasing concentrations of ambient soil carbon dioxide concentration ([CO(2)]), and recent evidence suggests this decline may be attributable to a decline in maintenance respiration within the root. If true, this concept could provide a clue to the biochemical process underlying respiratory inhibition as well as improve our knowledge of the timing and degree to which this inhibition occurs in nature. To test the hypothesis that maintenance respiration exhibits a direct, negative response to increasing [CO(2)], we measured total respiration in intact root systems of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) seedlings grown at different relative growth rates and exposed to soil [CO(2)]s ranging from 91 to 7008 &mgr;mol mol(-1). Analysis of covariance was used to separate maintenance from total respiration. Total respiration declined exponentially with increasing [CO(2)]. Maintenance respiration, which comprised 85% of total respiration over all treatments, also declined exponentially with increasing [CO(2)]. Growth respiration was not inhibited at any [CO(2)]. These findings may explain why roots of some fast-growing species do not show [CO(2)] inhibition.

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