, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 233-240

Carbon translocation to the rhizosphere of maize and wheat and influence on the turnover of native soil organic matter at different soil nitrogen levels

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Wheat and maize were grown in a growth chamber with the atmospheric CO2 continuously labelled with 14C to study the translocation of assimilated carbon to the rhizosphere. Two different N levels in soil were applied. In maize 26–34% of the net assimilated 14C was translocated below ground, while in wheat higher values (40–58%) were found. However, due to the much higher shoot production in maize the total amount of carbon translocated below ground was similar to that of wheat. At high N relatively more of the C that was translocated to the root, was released into the soil due to increased root respiration and/or root exudation and subsequent microbial utilization and respiration. The evolution rate of unlabelled CO2 from the native soil organic matter decreased after about 25 days when wheat was grown at high N as compared to low N. This negative effect of high N in soil was not observed with maize.