• Title: Root Trait Diversity: Evolution, Ecology and Microbial Affiliations
  • Principal Investigators: Oscar Valverde-Barrantes 
  • Funding Source: sROOT - Root Trait Functionality in a Whole-Plant Context
  • Timeline: Ongoing

There is little information for most species on root traits due to the difficulty to collect entire root systems in the field. The lack of consistent collection and limited ability to identify fossilized material makes it virtually impossible to track the evolution of root tissues from fossil records. These challenges have limited the possibility to describe historical changes in root morphology, as well as the underlying causes of root diversification.

To address this gap, we used extensive databases of root traits from current species and phylogenetic reconstruction analysis to explore the evolutionary changes in root traits over evolutionary time. Our objective is to test simultaneously hypotheses linking root morphological changes with growth forms, aboveground traits and fungal symbiosis, providing crucial insight about how seed plants evolved in the past, and may respond to future climatic scenarios. Our lab partners with Dr Collen Iversen and Dr. Luke McCormack (FRED project) and sRoot group (GRooT project) help us in the compilation and analysis of data.

Read about how roots take a DIY approach for plant growth.


  • 2020

    Guerrero‐Ramírez, N. R., Mommer, L., Freschet, G. T., Iversen, C. M., McCormack, M. L., Kattge, J., Poorter, H., Plas, F., Bergmann, J., Kuyper, T. W., York, L. M., Bruelheide, H., Laughlin, D. C., Meier, I. C., Roumet, C., Semchenko, M., Sweeney, C. J., Ruijven, J., Valverde‐Barrantes, O. J., … Weigelt, A. (2020). Global root traits (GRooT) database. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 30(1), 25–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13179 

    Bergmann, J., Weigelt, A., van der Plas, F., Laughlin, D. C., Kuyper, T. W., Guerrero-Ramirez, N., Valverde-Barrantes, O. J., Bruelheide, H., Freschet, G. T., Iversen, C. M., Kattge, J., McCormack, M. L., Meier, I. C., Rillig, M. C., Roumet, C., Semchenko, M., Sweeney, C. J., van Ruijven, J., York, L. M., & Mommer, L. (2020). The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plants. Science Advances, 6(27), eaba3756. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba3756

    Valverde‐Barrantes, O. J., Maherali, H., Baraloto, C., & Blackwood, C. B. (2020). Independent evolutionary changes in fine‐root traits among main clades during the diversification of seed plants. New Phytologist, 228(2), 541–553. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16729