Plant roots redesign the rhizosphere to alter the three-dimensional physical architecture and water dynamics

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Rabbi, S. M. F., Tighe, M. K., Flavel, R. J., Kaiser, B. N., Guppy, C. N., Zhang, X. and Young, I. M. 2018. Plant roots redesign the rhizosphere to alter the three-dimensional physical architecture and water dynamics . New Phytologist. 219 (2), pp. 542-550.

AuthorsRabbi, S. M. F., Tighe, M. K., Flavel, R. J., Kaiser, B. N., Guppy, C. N., Zhang, X. and Young, I. M.
Abstract

The mechanisms controlling the genesis of rhizosheaths are not well understood, despite their importance in controlling the flux of nutrients and water from soil to root.

Here, we examine the development of rhizosheaths from drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive chickpea varieties; focusing on the three-dimensional characterization of the pore volume (> 16 mu m voxel spatial resolution) obtained from X-ray microtomography, along with the characterization of mucilage and root hairs, and water sorption.

We observe that drought-tolerant plants generate a larger diameter root, and a greater and more porous mass of rhizosheath, which also has a significantly increased water sorptivity, as compared with bulk soil.

Using lattice Boltzmann simulations of soil permeability, we find that the root activity of both cultivars creates an anisotropic structure in the rhizosphere, in that its ability to conduct water in the radial direction is significantly higher than in the axial direction, especially in the drought-tolerant cultivar. We suggest that significant differences in rhizosheath architectures are sourced not only by changes in structure of the volumes, but also from root mucilage, and further suggest that breeding for rhizosheath architectures and function may be a potential future avenue for better designing crops in a changing environment.

Keywordschickpea; microtomography; mucilage; rhizosheath; rhizosphere; root hairs; soil structure; water uptake
Year of Publication2018
JournalNew Phytologist
Journal citation219 (2), pp. 542-550
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/nph.15213
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 1 (WP1) - Optimising nutrient flows and pools in the soil-plant-biota system
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online18 May 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Apr 2018
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
Wiley
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
ISSN0028-646X

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