Abstract

Low root temperatures significantly reduced root hydraulic conductivity and increased resistance to water flow through the roots of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) seedlings. Increased resistance to water flow could not be fully explained by the corresponding increase in water viscosity at low temperatures. The shapes of Arrhenius plots of root water flow and the activation energies were dependent on the direction, sequence and extent of temperature change. The Arrhenius plots suggested that the effect of low root temperature on root water flow was mediated by an effect on root metabolism. The low root temperatures tested did not induce root electrolyte leakage normally associated with cell membrane injury. Although a decrease in root temperatures to 7 or 4 °C induced a reduction in stomatal conductance, this reduction lagged the decline in root water flow by several hours. In contrast, when soil temperatures were raised from 4 or 7 °C to 25 °C, root water flow presumably increased, and stomatal conductance responded rapidly and was temporarily higher than before the cold treatment was imposed.