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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On the modeling paradigm of plant root nutrient acquisition


Plant root nutrient acquisition, and to a lesser extent foliar nutrient uptake, maintain plant metabolism and strongly regulate terrestrial biogeochemistry and carbon-climate feedbacks. However, terrestrial biogeochemical models differ in their representations of plant root nutrient acquisition, leading to significantly different, and uncertain, carbon cycle and future climate projections. Here we first review biogeochemical principles and observations relevant to three essential plant root nutrient acquisition mechanisms: activity of nutrient acquiring proteins, maintenance of nutrient stoichiometry, and energy expenditure for these processes. We next examine how these mechanisms are considered in three existing modeling paradigms, and conclude by recommending the capacity-based approach, the need for observations, and necessary modeling developments of plant root nutrient acquisition to improve carbon-climate feedback projections.

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