4 years ago

Roots-eye view: Using microdialysis and microCT to non-destructively map root nutrient depletion and accumulation zones

Richard Brackin, Brian S. Atkinson, Amanda Rasmussen, Craig J. Sturrock
Improvement in fertilizer use efficiency is a key aspect for achieving sustainable agriculture in order to minimize costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution from nutrient run-off. To optimize root architecture for nutrient uptake and efficiency, we need to understand what the roots encounter in their environment. Traditional methods of nutrient sampling, such as salt extractions can only be done at the end of an experiment, are impractical for sampling locations precisely and give total nutrient values that can overestimate the nutrients available to the roots. In contrast, microdialysis provides a non-invasive, continuous method for sampling available nutrients in the soil. Here, for the first time, we have used microCT imaging to position microdialysis probes at known distances from the roots and then measured the available nitrate and ammonium. We found that nitrate accumulated close to roots whereas ammonium was depleted demonstrating that this combination of complementary techniques provides a unique ability to measure root-available nutrients non-destructively and in almost real time.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/pce.13072

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