Fine roots of the trees are significantly younger than expected

4. September 2018
International researchers used a new method to determine the age of fine roots with which trees absorb water and nutrients. In the recently published study, they found that the already short-lived fine roots are on average 10 years younger than previously assumed. In conventional analyses, roots appear older, since trees can also use older carbon from storage organs to form roots. The research team, with the participation of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, suspects a survival strategy for trees for dry periods behind this type of carbon utilization.

For the English press release, please visit the webpage of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL:

Original publication
Solly, E. F., Brunner, I., Helmisaari, H.-S., Herzog, C., Leppälammi-Kujansuu, J., Schöning, I., Schrumpf, M., Schweingruber, F. H., Trumbore, S. E., Hagedorn, F. (2018). Unravelling the age of fine roots of temperate and boreal forests. Nature Communications, 9(1).

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Marion Schrumpf, group leader Soil Biogeochemistry
Phone: +49 3641 57 6182, E-mail:

Dr. Ingo Schöning, scientist
Phone: +49 3641 57 6191, E-mail:

Prof Susan Trumbore, director, department Biogeochemical Processes
Phone: +49 3641 57 6110, E-mail:
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