, Volume 267, Issue 1-2, pp 343-355

Rhizospheric exudation of Eriophorum vaginatum L. — Potential link to methanogenesis

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Abstract

Root exudates are a direct link between primary production in higher plants and methanogenesis. The relationship has been widely studied on rice paddies, but less is known about its role in wetlands populated by naturally occurring species. This study provides information about the amount and composition of root exudates produced by a widespread mire plant, Eriophorum vaginatum L. For this purpose, E. vaginatum plants were grown in quartz sand in pots from April to October, and root exudates were collected once a month by percolation of the cultivation substrate. In June and October, a set of plants was labelled with 14CO2 for two days and subsequently harvested for the determination of dry weight and for root exudates collected by the dipping method. The study supports earlier findings that natural wetland plants can enhance methanogenesis in their rhizosphere via active and seasonally varying exudation, but that the amount of exuded carbon (C) is many times lower than that delivered via litter formation. At both harvests in June and October, the proportion of incorporated radioactivity in shoots, roots and exudates was 92–96%, 4–8%, and 0.2%, respectively. New C was primarily fixed in the metabolically important carbohydrates, as well as acid anions that composed the main compounds of the new exudates. However, microbes seemed to rapidly metabolise the exudates into other substances like acetate. This was the dominant compound in the rhizoplane and rhizosphere, and it was the only detected substance that occurred in higher amounts outside the roots than inside them. Further studies in the field, including the quantification of gaseous end products, are necessary to complete our understanding of the carbon cycling in E. vaginatum-soil-microbe-system.