Interplay between soil drying and root exudation in rhizosheath development

Albalasmeh, Ammar A. and Ghezzehei, Teamrat A.

Plant and Soil, vol. 374(1-2), pp. 739–751 , 2013.


Rhizosheath, Aggregate formation/stabilization, Root exudate, Rhizosphere water content, Polygalacturonic Acid (PGA)


Background and Aims Wetting-drying cycles are important environmental processes known to enhance aggregation. However, very little attention has been given to drying as a process that transports mucilage to inter-particle contacts where it is deposited and serves as binding glue. The objective of this study was to formulate and test conceptual and mathematical models that describe the role of drying in soil aggregation through transportation and deposition of binding agents. Methods We used an ESEM to visualize aggregate formation of pair of glass beads. To test our model, we subjected three different sizes of sand to multiple wetting-drying cycles of PGA solution as a mimic of root exudates to form artificial aggregates. Water stable aggregate was determined using wet sieving apparatus. Results A model to predict aggregate stability in presence of organic matter was developed, where aggregate stability depends on soil texture as well as the strength, density and mass fraction of organic matter, which was confirmed experimentally. The ESEM images emphasize the role of wetting-drying cycles on soil aggregate formation. Conclusions Our experimental results confirmed the mathematical model predictions as well as the ESEM images on the role of drying in soil aggregation as an agent for transport and deposition of binding agents.