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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Quantifying Rhizosphere Respiration in a Corn Crop under Field Conditions


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 2, p. 466-474
    Received: Apr 1, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): rochettep@em.agr.ca
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  1. Philippe Rochette  and
  2. Lawrence B. Flanagan
  1. Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre, Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2560 Hochelaga Blvd., Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada
    Dep. of Biology, Carleton Univ., 1125 Colonel By Drive, ON K1S 5B6, Canada



In order to quantify rhizosphere respiration (Rrh) during the growing season, we monitored the isotope ratio (δ13C) of soil CO2 in a corn (Zea mays L.) crop that was grown on a soil developed from C3 plant material. The Rrh was defined as the sum of CO2 respired by plant roots and CO2 respired by microbes that feed on organic material produced by the roots. The δ13C of soil CO2 in the corn plot changed from an early season low of approximately −20‰, to mid-season values of approximately −14‰, before declining again at the end of the growing season. In the control plot (no C4 plants present) δ13C values of soil CO2 were significantly lower than values in the corn plot, averaging approximately −22‰ throughout most of the season. We observed no significant change in the δ13C value of soil CO2 in either the corn or control plots during a diurnal sampling period. The value of Rrh was 1.71 g CO2 m−2 d−1 27 d after planting (DAP), reached 10 g CO2 m−2 d−1 at 44 DAP, remained at about that value until 76 DAP, and gradually decreased to 2.6 g CO2 m−2 d−1 at 141 DAP. The CO2 respired by the rhizosphere was equivalent to 18 to 25% of crop net photosynthesis and 24 to 35% of crop net CO2 assimilation during most of the growing season.

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