Externally funded project

Localization and quantification of physical and mechanical rhizosphere properties using X-ray microtomography and microsensing techniques (Organisation der Rhizosphere)

Project Details
Project duration: 10/201809/2021


The rhizosphere is expected to play a major role in ecosystem resilience and conservation of soil functions. The rhizosphere, as selforganized ecosystem, is a special region in soil where plants create functional microenvironments with specific microbiological, chemical and physical characteristics sustaining their needs for nutrients and energy. Non-invasive imaging has a great potential to study the rhizosphere microenvironment and its spatial heterogeneous structures, which we believe control the self-organization of plant-soil interfaces. In combination with predictive modeling of rhizosphere interactive physical, chemical and (micro)biological processes, imaging the spatial patterns and their dynamics could significantly enhance our understanding of ecosystem functions. The objective of this research is to study the interplay between plants and soil structure formation in the rhizosphere controlled by root growth related processes: soil deformation, water uptake, exudation, and microbial activity. We will study (micro)-aggregate formation, the local stability of rhizosphere, root exudates and mucilage. Our overall hypothesis is that soil structure is modified by root activity in such a way that it sustains the exploration of soil for water and nutrients by forming a self-organized structured habitat in the rhizosphere which optimizes the interplay between biological, physical and chemical
processes leading to spatiotemporal patterns providing resilience to plant growth. We will use modern analytical tools such as X-Ray computed tomography (XRCT), quantitative 3D image analysis and oxygen/redox micro-sensing techniques. We also will combine our research facilities with other non-invasive techniques such as Magnet Resonance Imaging (MRI) in collaboration with the Research Centre Jülich / RWTH Aachen University as well as NanoSIMS (Technical University of Munich). Further collaboration is foreseen with respect to mucilage effects on micro-mechanical and hydraulic properties (University of Bayreuth) and for statistical analysis, modeling and simulation of geometrically complex 3D microstructures using our 3D image datasets (University of Ulm) as well as study soil properties emerging from hydraulic lift strategies (University of Bonn).

Principal Investigator

Last updated on 2019-11-04 at 12:59