Plant and Soil

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 111–119 | Cite as

Influence of maize root mucilage on soil aggregate stability

  • Jean Louis Morel
  • Leila Habib
  • Sylvain Plantureux
  • Armand Guckert


This study was undertaken to determine the effects of root exudates on soil aggregate stability. Root mucilage was collected from two-month old maize plants (Zea mays L.) Mucilage and glucose solutions were added at a rate of 2.45 g C kg−1 dry soil to silty clay and silt loam soils. Amended soils, placed in serum flasks, were incubated for 42 d with a drying-wetting cycle after 21 d. Evolved CO2 was measured periodically as well as the water-stable aggregates and soluble sugar and polysaccharide content of the soil. In mucilage-amended soils CO2 evolution started with a lag phase of 2–3 days, which was not observed in glucose-amended soils. There was then a sharp increase in evolved CO2 up to day 7. During the second incubation period there were only small differences in evolved C between treatments. Incorporation of mucilage in both soils resulted in a spectacular and immediate increase in soil aggregate stability. Thereafter, the percent of water-stable aggregates quickly decreased parallel to microbial degradation. On completion of the incubation, aggregate stability in the silty clay soil was still significantly higher in the presence of mucilage than in the control. This work supports the assumption that freshly released mucilage is able to stick very rapidly to soil particles and may protect the newly formed aggregates against water destruction. On the silty clay, microbial activity contributes to a stabilization of these established organo-mineral bounds.

Key words

adsorption aggregation maize root mucilage rhizosphere stable aggregates 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Louis Morel
    • 1
  • Leila Habib
    • 1
  • Sylvain Plantureux
    • 1
  • Armand Guckert
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory INRA ‘Agronomy and Environment’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie et des Industries AlimentairesVandoeuvre les NancyFrance

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