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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Root morphology and exudate availability is shaped by particle size and chemistry in Brachypodium distachyon

  • Author(s): Sasse, Joelle
  • Jordan, Jacob
  • DeRaad, Markus
  • Whiting, Katherine
  • Zhalnina, Katherina
  • Northen, Trent
  • et al.

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Root morphology and exudation define a plants sphere of influence in soils, and are in turn shaped by the physiochemical characteristics of soil. We explored how particle size and chemistry of growth substrates affect root morphology and exudation of the model grass Brachypodium distachyon . Root fresh weight and root lengths were correlated with particle size, whereas root number and shoot weight remained constant. Mass spectrometry imaging suggested that both, root length and number shape root exudation. Exudate metabolite profiles detected with liquid chromatography / mass spectrometry were comparable for plants growing in glass beads or sand with various particles sizes, but distinct for plants growing in clay. However, when exudates of clay-grown plants were collected by removing the plants from the substrate, their exudate profile was similar to sand- or glass beads-grown plants. Clay particles sorbed 20% of compounds exuded by clay-grown plants, and 70% of compounds of a defined exudate medium. The sorbed compounds belonged to a range of chemical classes, among them nucleosides/nucleotides, organic acids, sugars, and amino acids. Some of the sorbed compounds could be de-sorbed by a rhizobacterium ( Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS415), supporting its growth. We show that root morphology is affected by substrate size, and that root exudation in contrast is not affected by substrate size or chemistry. The availability of exuded compounds, however, depends on the substrate present. These findings further support the critical importance of the physiochemical properties of soils are crucial to consider when investigating plant morphology, exudation, and plant-microbe interactions.

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