Root moisture content influence on root tensile tests of herbaceous plants

Chaobo Zhang* (Corresponding Author), Xia Zhou, Jing Jiang, Yang Wei, Juanjuan Ma, Paul D. Hallett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Root tensile strength controls root reinforcement, but a range of factors including root moisture and diameter have such a large impact that it is difficult to make predictions. In this study, we measured how variable root moisture content affects the relationship between root diameter and root tensile strength of herbaceous plants. Fresh roots of two herbaceous plants, Heteropappus altaicus and Poa sphondylodes were divided into four groups: (i) saturated in water, (ii) kept fresh, (iii) or dried for 6 h or (iv) 12 h in air. Root diameter and mechanical failure under tension before and after the moisture treatment were measured. Tensile strength and tensile force of both species decreased linearly while mean root diameter increased linearly with increasing root moisture content. Root moisture content has a large impact on the variability of root tensile strength. This emphasizes the need to avoid desiccation during testing. In field impacts of soil water potential on root strength requires further study. We recommend soaking roots in water before testing to decrease this source of error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
Early online date25 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China projects (No. 31600582), China Scholarship Council (No. 201606935013), Natural Science Foundation of Shanxi Province of China (No. 201701D221224), Program for the Outstanding Innovative Teams of Higher Learning Institutions of Shanxi Province of China and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK (EP/M019713/1).


  • Herbaceous plants
  • Root diameter
  • Root moisture content
  • Root tensile strength
  • Soil reinforcement


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