Conceptual diagram showing how solute transport in saturated fine-textured and course-textured soils is altered by root exudates.
This shows conceptually how solute transport in saturated fine-textured (a, b) and course-textured (c, d) soils is altered by root exudates, which reduce saturated hydraulic conductivity by blocking flow through some pore spaces. This produces a mobile domain in which solutes are transported by mass flow and an immobile domain in which solutes can only be transported through diffusion. Credit: Paporisch et al. [2021], Figure 1
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Water Resources Research

The rhizosphere, the volume of soil that surrounds the fine roots of plants, has unique biological, chemical, and physical properties that regulate plants nutrient uptake, water retention, microbial activity. Plants exert some control over the rhizosphere properties by exporting various compounds, such as sugar, amino acids, and various polymer-like substances. The latter compounds act as a sort of glue that reduces water and nutrient transport through the rhizosphere by blocking flow through some of the soil pore spaces.

Although the processes responsible for transporting nutrient are essential to plant growth and overall soil health, most studies have focused only on water transport while. Paporisch et al. [2021] make a significant advance in the understanding of nutrient transport through the rhizosphere by developing a comprehensive experimental approach combined with physically based models that aid in the interpretation of the experimental data. The approach is repeatable and provides a robust framework for testing hypotheses under a variety of soil textures and plant types. Importantly, the study helps to highlight the importance of soil transport in the rhizosphere.

Citation: Paporisch, A., Bavli, H., Strickman, R. J., Neumann, R. B., & Schwartz, N. [2021]. Root exudates alters nutrient transport in soil. Water Resources Research, 57, e2021WR029976.

—D. Scott Mackay, Editor, Water Resources Research

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