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Plant Physiol. 1994 Jul;105(3):847-852.

Microsensor Analysis of Oxygen in the Rhizosphere of the Aquatic Macrophyte Littorella uniflora (L.) Ascherson.

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National Environmental Research Institute, Vejlsovej 25, DK-8600 Silkeborg, Denmark (P.B.C).


Oxygen released by the roots of submerged plants may oxidize organic compounds from the roots and reduced substances continuously supplied by diffusion from the surrounding anoxic hydrosoil. We provide here the first visualization of this gradient environment obtained by microsensor analysis of oxygen in the rhizosphere of the freshwater plant Littorella uniflora (L.) Ascherson. The plants were rooted in an agar medium, in which amorphous FeS provided the main oxygen sink. The oxygen concentration at the root surface ranged from 20 to 450 [mu]M (atmospheric saturation = 280 [mu]M) between darkness and saturating light, and the oxic shell surrounding the roots varied from about 0.5 to 5 mm in thickness. The oxygen flux from the roots was a saturating function of the incident light intensity on the leaves, and the oxygen released was consumed mainly at the fluctuating oxic/anoxic interface. The oxic zones around individual roots are under dynamic control by light, root morphology, root density, and sediment reducing capacity, and, therefore, oxygen concentrations should be subject to substantial diurnal fluctuations in dense Littorella populations in nutrient-poor sediments.

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