Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 3–17 | Cite as

Root exudates: from plant to rhizosphere and beyond

  • Vicente Vives-Peris
  • Carlos de Ollas
  • Aurelio Gómez-Cadenas
  • Rosa María Pérez-ClementeEmail author


Key message

This article describes the composition of root exudates, how these metabolites are released to the rhizosphere and their importance in the recruitment of beneficial microbiota that alleviate plant stress.


Metabolites secreted to the rhizosphere by roots are involved in several processes. By modulating the composition of the root exudates, plants can modify soil properties to adapt and ensure their survival under adverse conditions. They use several strategies such as (1) changing soil pH to solubilize nutrients into assimilable forms, (2) chelating toxic compounds, (3) attracting beneficial microbiota, or (4) releasing toxic substances for pathogens, etc. In this work, the composition of root exudates as well as the different mechanisms of root exudation have been reviewed. Existing methodologies to collect root exudates, indicating their advantages and disadvantages, are also described. Factors affecting root exudation have been exposed, including physical, chemical, and biological agents which can produce qualitative and quantitative changes in exudate composition. Finally, since root exudates play an important role in the recruitment of mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), the mechanisms of interaction between plants and the beneficial microbiota have been highlighted.


Mycorrhiza Rhizosphere Rhizobacteria Root exudates 



Acetoacetyl CoA thiolase


ATP-binding cassette




Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


Arabidopsis Twinkle homolog


Adenosine triphosphate


Aluminium-activated-malate transporters






Dual vessel system




Ferric reductase defective like


Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry


Jasmonic acid


Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry


Multidrug and toxic compound extrusion


Multidrug resistance-associated protein


Nucleotide-binding domains


Nitric oxide


Pleiotropic drug resistance


Phenolics efflux zero




Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria


Quick anion channels


Recipient à Immersion Temporaire Automatique




Salicylic acid




Slow anion channels


Temporary immersion system


Transmembrane domains


Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae



The work published in this article has been supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (MINECO) and Universitat Jaume I through Grant nos. AGL2016-76574-R and UJI-B2016-23, respectively. V.V.-P. was recipient of a predoctoral contract from the Universitat Jaume I (PREDOC/2013/31).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Ciències Agràries i del Medi NaturalUniversitat Jaume ICastellón de la PlanaSpain

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