Recent studies have remarked on differences in the life cycles of individual fine roots. However, the dynamics of individual roots with different life cycles, such as ephemeral and perennial, during root system development are still unknown. We examined individual roots during fine root system development in a mature stand of Chamaecyparis obtusa Sieb. et Zucc. (Cupressaceae) using the sequential ingrowth core method and an anatomical method. The visual classification, i.e., orange, red, brown, intact dead, and fragmented dead, of fine roots corresponded well with the anatomical classification. Orange and red roots contained passage cells, and brown roots contained cork cambium. The proportions of protoxylem groups differed among visual classes. Brown secondary roots were mainly triarch (43%) and tetrarch (40%) and rarely diarch (12%), whereas fragmented dead roots, which constituted more than 95% of the dead roots, were mainly diarch (67%). These results imply that triarch and tetrarch roots tend to form secondary roots, whereas diarch roots tend to become dead roots without secondary growth. Using the numbers of root tips and clusters, root system development could be classified into three stages: colonization, branching within the root system, and maintenance. During the colonization stage, mainly triarch and tetrarch roots, which tend to be secondary growth, invaded ingrowth cores. During the branching stage, primarily diarch roots, which tend to be ephemeral, emerged. Fine root system development involved the recruitment of different individual roots during the life cycle depending on the growth stage.
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