Hydraulic Lift: Water Efflux From Upper Roots Improves Effectiveness of Water Uptake by Deep Roots
Deuterated water absorbed by deep roots of Artemisia tridentata appeared in the stem water of neighboring Agropyron desertorum tussocks. This supports the hypothesis that water absorbed by deep roots in moist soil moves through the roots, is released in the upper soil profile at night, and is stored there until it is resorbed by roots the following day. This phenomenon is termed hydraulic lift. The potential for parasitism of the water stored in the upper soil layers by neighboring plant roots is also shown. The effectiveness of water absorption by deep roots was substantially improved with hydraulic lift as indicated by reductions of 25 to 50% in transpiration on days following experimental circumvention of hydraulic lift. This phenomenon has important implications for plant water relations, mineral nutrient uptake, competitive interactions among neighboring plants and aridland hydrology.
Caldwell, M. M.; Richards, J. H.; 1989. Hydraulic Lift: Water Efflux From Upper Roots Improves Effectiveness of Water Uptake by Deep Roots. Oecologia 79(1): 1-5.