Impact of treated wastewater on growth, respiration and hydraulic conductivity of citrus root systems in light and heavy soils

Indira Paudel, Shabtai Cohen, Avi Shaviv, Asher Bar-Tal, Nirit Bernstein, Bruria Heuer, Jhonathan Ephrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Roots interact with soil properties and irrigation water quality leading to changes in root growth, structure and function. We studied these interactions in an orchard and in lysimeters with clay and sandy loam soils. Minirhizotron imaging and manual sampling showed that root growth was three times lower in the clay relative to sandy loam soil. Treated wastewater (TWW) led to a large reduction in root growth with clay (45-55%) but not with sandy loam soil (<20%). Treated wastewater increased salt uptake, membrane leakage and proline content, and decreased root viability, carbohydrate content and osmotic potentials in the fine roots, especially in clay. These results provide evidence that TWW challenges and damages the root system. The phenology and physiology of root orders were studied in lysimeters. Soil type influenced diameter, specific root area, tissue density and cortex area similarly in all root orders, while TWW influenced these only in clay soil. Respiration rates were similar in both soils, and root hydraulic conductivity was severely reduced in clay soil. Treated wastewater increased respiration rate and reduced hydraulic conductivity of all root orders in clay but only of the lower root orders in sandy loam soil. Loss of hydraulic conductivity increased with root order in clay and clay irrigated with TWW. Respiration and hydraulic properties of all root orders were significantly affected by sodium-amended TWW in sandy loam soil. These changes in root order morphology, anatomy, physiology and hydraulic properties indicate rapid and major modifications of root systems in response to differences in soil type and water quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-785
Number of pages16
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • irrigation
  • membrane leakage
  • minirhizotron
  • osmotic stress
  • proline
  • water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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