Skip to main content
Estimating Nutrient Uptake by Mature Tree Roots Under Field Conditions: Challenges and Opportunities
Environmental Science and Management Faculty Publications and Presentations
  • Melissa S. Lucash, Portland State University
  • Dave M. Eissenstat, Pennsylvania State University
  • J. Devereux Joslin, Belowground Forest Research
  • Karis J. McFarlane, Oregon State University
  • Ruth D. Yanai, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Loblolly pine,
  • Plants -- Nutrition,
  • Forest ecology
Nutrient uptake by roots of mature trees is difficult to measure accurately under field conditions using existing methods. In this review, we discuss current techniques for measuring uptake at the root surface including excised roots, isotopic tracers, autoradiography, depletion, and lysimeters. Although these methods have provided many insights, each has drawbacks. Estimates of uptake are affected by the sampling scheme, experimental conditions, whether roots are excised or not, concentrations of ions, and the rate of efflux of ions. Microbes and mycorrhizas can also affect estimates of uptake. A greater focus on methods development is critical to advancing our understanding of nutrient uptake of mature trees under conditions representative of those in the field.

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Trees. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version is available at:

*At the time of publication Melissa Lucash was affiliated with State University of New York.

Persistent Identifier
Citation Information
Melissa S. Lucash, Dave M. Eissenstat, J. Devereux Joslin, Karis J. McFarlane, et al.. "Estimating Nutrient Uptake by Mature Tree Roots Under Field Conditions: Challenges and Opportunities" (2007)
Available at: