Plant and Soil

, Volume 327, Issue 1–2, pp 199–212 | Cite as

Effect of lime on root growth, morphology and the rhizosheath of cereal seedlings growing in an acid soil

  • Rebecca E. Haling
  • Richard J. Simpson
  • Emmanuel Delhaize
  • Peter J. Hocking
  • Alan E. Richardson
Regular Article


The effect of soil acidity on root and rhizosheath development in wheat and barley seedlings was investigated in an acid Ferrosol soil to which various amounts of lime (CaCO3) were applied to modify soil Al concentrations (pH (CaCl2): 4.22 to 5.35 and Al (CaCl2 extract): 17.7 to 0.4 mg kg−1 soil; respectively), and Ferrosol soil from an adjacent location at the same site which had a higher Al concentration (pH 4.19; 29.2 mg kg−1 Al). The cereal lines were selected on the basis of differences in their rate of root growth, Al-resistance and root hair morphology. Root morphology was assessed after 7 days of growth. The length of fine (mainly lateral) roots of Al-sensitive genotypes was more sensitive to soil Al concentrations than that of the coarse (mainly primary) roots. The experiments demonstrated that even where root growth was protected by expression of the TaALMT1 gene for Al-resistance, root-soil contact was diminished by soil acidity because root hair length (in many lines), and root hair density and rhizosheath formation (all lines) were adversely affected by soil acidity. In the case of Al-sensitive lines, fine root growth and rhizosheath mass were reduced over much the same range of soil Al concentrations (i.e. >3–6 mg kg−1 Al). Although Al-resistant lines could maintain fine root length under these conditions, they were similarly unable to maintain rhizosheath mass. This finding may help to explain why Al-resistant wheats which yield relatively well in deep acid soils, may also benefit from application of lime to the surface layers of the soil.


Triticum aestivum Hordeum vulgare Wheat Barley Roots Root hairs Aluminium Soil acidity pH 



Thanks are due to Katie Riseborough for early exploratory experiments undertaken as part of a CSIRO Summer Studentship and to Dr Peter Ryan (CSIRO) for valuable discussions. The project was funded by a Summer Studentship to Rebecca Haling. Sponsors of the CSIRO Summer Student Program were the Grains Research and Development Corporation and The Australian Pastoral Research Trust. Adam Stefanski and David Marshall provided technical assistance and Dr Tara Gahoonia (The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark) supplied barley lines with differing root hair morphology.


  1. Arsenault JL, Poulcur S, Messier C, Guay R (1995) WinRHlZO™ A root-measuring system with a unique overlap correction method. HortScience 30:906Google Scholar
  2. Brady DJ, Edwards DG, Asher CJ, Blamey FPC (1993) Calcium amelioration of aluminium toxicity effects on root hair development in soybean [Glycine max (L) Merr]. New Phytol 123:531–538. doi: 10.1111/J.1469-8137.1993.TB03765.X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bromfield SM, Cumming RW, David DJ, Williams CH (1983) The assessment of available manganese and aluminium status in acid soils under subterranean clover pastures of various ages. Aust J Exp Agr 23:192–200. doi: 10.1071/EA9830192 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Care DA (1995) The effect of aluminium concentration on root hairs in white clover (Trifolium repens L). Plant Soil 171:159–162. doi: 10.1007/BF00009580 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Conyers MK, Mullen CL, Scott BJ, Poile GJ, Braysher BD (2003) Long-term benefits of limestone applications to soil properties and to cereal crop yields in southern and central New South Wales. Aust J Exp Agr 43:71–78. doi: 10.1071/EA01121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Delhaize E, Craig S, Beaton CD, Bennet RJ, Jagadish VC, Randall PJ (1993) Aluminium tolerance in wheat (Triticum aestivum) 1. Uptake and distribution of aluminium in root apices. Plant Physiol 103:685–693PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Delhaize E, Ryan PR, Hebb DM, Yamamoto Y, Sasaki T, Matsumoto H (2004) Engineering high-level aluminum tolerance in barley with the ALMT1 gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:15249–15254. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0406258101 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Delhaize E, Taylor P, Hocking PJ, Simpson RJ, Ryan PR, Richardson AE (2009) Transgenic barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) that express the wheat aluminium resistance gene (TaALMT1) show enhanced phosphorus nutrition and grain production when grown on an acid soil. Plant Biotechnol J 7:391–400CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fisher JA, Scott BJ (1983) Breeding wheat for tolerance to acid soils. Proceedings, Australian plant breeding conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 14–18 February, 1983, 74–75Google Scholar
  10. Gahoonia TS, Nielsen NE (1997) Variation in root hairs of barley cultivars doubled soil phosphorus uptake. Euphytica 98:177–182. doi: 10.1023/A:1003113131989 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gahoonia TS, Care D, Nielsen NE (1997) Root hairs and phosphorus acquisition of wheat and barley cultivars. Plant Soil 191:181–188. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3040.2003.01093.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gahoonia TS, Nielsen NE, Joshi PA, Jahoor A (2001) A root hairless barley mutant for elucidating genetic of root hairs and phosphorus uptake. Plant Soil 235:211–219. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3040.2003.01093.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo T, Zhang G, Zhou M, Wu F, Chen J (2004) Effects of aluminum and cadmium toxicity on growth and antioxidant enzyme activities of two barley genotypes with different Al resistance. Plant Soil 258:241–288. doi: 10.1023/B:PLSO.0000016554.87519.d6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Isbell RF (1996) The Australian soil classification. CSIRO, CollingwoodGoogle Scholar
  15. Jones DL, Gilroy S, Larsen PB, Howell SH, Kochian LV (1998) Effect of aluminum on cytoplasmic Ca2+ homeostasis in root hairs of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.). Planta 206:378–387. doi: 10.1016/S1360-1385(99)01551-4 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Kinraide TB, Parker DR, Zobel RW (2005) Organic acid secretion as a mechanism of aluminium resistance: a model incorporating the root cortex, epidermis, and the external unstirred layer. J Exp Bot 56:1853–1865. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eri175 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kochian LV, Pineros MA, Hoekenga OA (2005) The physiology, genetics and molecular biology of plant aluminum resistance and toxicity. Plant Soil 274:175–195. doi: 10.1007/s11104-004-1158-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ma JF (2007) Syndrome of aluminum toxicity and diversity of aluminum resistance in higher plants. Int Rev Cyt 264:225–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McCully ME (1999) Roots in soil: unearthing the complexities of roots and their rhizospheres. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 50:695–718. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.50.1.695 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. North GB, Nobel PS (1997) Root-soil contact for the desert succulent Agave deserti in wet and drying soil. New Phytol 135:21–29. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1997.tb04376.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pineros MA, Magalhaes JV, Alves VMC, Kochian LV (2002) The physiology and biophysics of an aluminum tolerance mechanism based on root citrate exudation in maize. Plant Physiol 129:1194–1206. doi: 10.1104/pp.002295 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Raman H, Zhang KR, Cakir M, Appels R, Garvin DF, Maron LG, Kochian LV, Moroni JS, Raman R, Imtiaz M, Drake-Brockman F, Waters I, Martin P, Sasaki T, Yamamoto Y, Matsumoto H, Hebb DM, Delhaize E, Ryan PR (2005) Molecular characterization and mapping of ALMT1, the aluminium-tolerance gene of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Genome 48:781–791. doi: 10.1139/G05-054 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rayment GE, Higginson FR (1992) Australian laboratory handbook of soils and water chemical methods. Inkata, Port MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  24. Reuter DJ, Robinson JB (1997) Plant analysis an interpretation manual. CSIRO, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  25. Richards RA, Lukacs Z (2002) Seedling vigour in wheat-sources of variation for genetic and agronomic improvement. Aust J Agr Res 53:41–50. doi: 10.1071/AR00147 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryan PR, Delhaize E, Randall PJ (1995) Malate efflux from root apices and tolerance to aluminium are highly correlated in wheat. Aust J Plant Physiol 22:531–536. doi: 10.1071/PP9950531 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sasaki T, Yamamoto Y, Ezaki B, Katsuhara M, Ahn SJ, Ryan PR, Delhaize E, Matsumoto H (2004) A wheat gene encoding an aluminum-activated malate transporter. Plant J 37:645–653. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2003.01991.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Scott BJ, Conyers MK, Poile GJ, Cullis BR (1997) Subsurface acidity and liming affect yield of cereals. Aust J Agr Res 48:843–854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scott BJ, Fisher JA, Cullis BR (2001) Aluminium tolerance and lime increase wheat yield on the acidic soils of central and southern New South Wales. Aust J Exp Agr 41:523–532. doi: 10.1071/EA00038 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shen H, Yan XL, Cai KZ, Matsumoto H (2004) Differential Al resistance and citrate secretion in the tap and basal roots of common bean seedlings. Physiol Plant 121:595–603. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2004.00357.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Silva IR, Smyth TJ, Raper CD, Carter TE, Rufty TW (2001) Differential aluminum tolerance in soybean: an evaluation of the role of organic acids. Physiol Plant 112:200–210. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3054.2001.1120208.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Tang C, Diatloff E, Rengel Z, McGann B (2001) Growth response to subsurface soil acidity of wheat genotypes differing in aluminium tolerance. Plant Soil 236:1–10. doi: 10.1023/A:1011930205505 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tang C, Rengel Z, Abrecht D, Tennant D (2002) Aluminium-tolerant wheat uses more water and yields higher than aluminium-sensitive one on a sandy soil with subsurface acidity. Field Crop Res 78:93–103. doi: 10.1016/S0378-4290(02)00105-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. von Uexkull HR, Mutert E (1995) Global extent, development and economic impact of acid soils. Plant Soil 171:1–15. doi: 10.1007/BF00009558 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vermeer J, McCully ME (1982) The rhizosphere in Zea: new insight into its structure and development. Planta 156:45–61. doi: 10.1007/BF00393442 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Watt M, McCully ME, Jeffree CE (1993) Plant and bacterial mucilages of the maize rhizosphere: comparison of their soil binding-properties and histochemistry in a model system. Plant Soil 151:151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Young IM (1995) Variation in moisture contents between bulk soil and the rhizosheath of wheat (Triticum aestivum cv Wembley). New Phytol 130:135–139. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1995.tb01823.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhao ZQ, Ma JF, Sato K, Takeda K (2003) Differential Al resistance and citrate secretion in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Planta 217:794–800. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2004.00357.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca E. Haling
    • 1
  • Richard J. Simpson
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Delhaize
    • 1
  • Peter J. Hocking
    • 1
  • Alan E. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Plant IndustryCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations