DDD Conference

Prof. Taryn Bauerle

Harnessing the Rhizosphere for Improved Plant Productivity

Cornell University, USA

Hydrological properties of the rhizosphere influence the connection between the root and soil, affect soil aggregation and modify soil organic carbon (SOC) pools, making the rhizosphere the first critical component in the soil-plant-atmosphere water continuum. Low soil water content can exacerbate the variability in the spatial distribution of the soil water, resulting in a disconnect between the rhizosphere and the bulk soil limiting plant growth and productivity. These processes are critical to maintaining sustainable agricultural practices because the ratio of the rhizosphere to the bulk soil can determine the relative contribution of root inputs into soil carbon (C) storage. Few have attempted to examine the complexity of the near root zone as a system, i.e. probing the interactions between water, chemistry and biology along the gradient from the root to the soil. In particular, the lack of suitable technology to measure the interplay of roots, water, and carbon directly at the root-soil interface has severely limited our ability to elucidate the temporal and spatial variation in rhizosphere processes and include it in current plant breeding and crop management programs.

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