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Front Microbiol. 2014 Jan 24;5:2. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00002. eCollection 2014.

Root exudation and root development of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Tizian) as affected by different soils.

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Department of Nutritional Crop Physiology, Institute of Crop Science (340h), University of Hohenheim Stuttgart, Germany.
Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung Gatersleben, Germany.
Department Plant Health, Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops Großbeeren/Erfurt e.V. Großbeeren, Germany.
Julius Kühn-Institut Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics Braunschweig, Germany.


Development and activity of plant roots exhibit high adaptive variability. Although it is well-documented, that physicochemical soil properties can strongly influence root morphology and root exudation, particularly under field conditions, a comparative assessment is complicated by the impact of additional factors, such as climate and cropping history. To overcome these limitations, in this study, field soils originating from an unique experimental plot system with three different soil types, which were stored at the same field site for 10 years and exposed to the same agricultural management practice, were used for an investigation on effects of soil type on root development and root exudation. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Tizian) was grown as a model plant under controlled environmental conditions in a minirhizotrone system equipped with root observation windows (rhizoboxes). Root exudates were collected by placing sorption filters onto the root surface followed by subsequent extraction and GC-MS profiling of the trapped compounds. Surprisingly, even in absence of external stress factors with known impact on root exudation, such as pH extremes, water and nutrient limitations/toxicities or soil structure effects (use of sieved soils), root growth characteristics (root length, fine root development) as well as profiles of root exudates were strongly influenced by the soil type used for plant cultivation. The results coincided well with differences in rhizosphere bacterial communities, detected in field-grown lettuce plants cultivated on the same soils (Schreiter et al., this issue). The findings suggest that the observed differences may be the result of plant interactions with the soil-specific microbiomes.


lettuce; root exudates; root morphology; soil effects

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