Continuous monitoring of rhizosphere respiration after labelling of plant shoots with 14CO2
The present work describes an original method to follow rate of 14CO2 and total CO2 production from rhizosphere respiration after plant shoots had been pulse-labelled with 14CO2. We used a radioactivity detector equipped with a plastic cell for flow detection of beta radiation by solid scintillation counting. The radioactivity detector was coupled with an infrared gas analyser. The flow detection of 14CO2 was compared to trapping of 14CO2 in NaOH and counting by liquid scintillation. First, we demonstrated that NaOH (1 M) trapped 95% of the CO2 of a gaseous sample. Then, we determined that the counting efficiency of the radioactivity flow cell was 41% of the activity of gaseous samples as determined by trapping in NaOH (1 M) and by counting by static liquid scintillation. The sensitivity of the 14CO2- flow detection was 0.08 Bq mL−1 air and the precision was 2.9% of the activity measured compared to 0.9% for NaOH trapping method. We presented two applications which illustrate the relevance of 14CO2-flow detection to investigations using 14C to trace photoassimilates within the plant-soil system. First, we examined the kinetics of 14CO2 production when concentrated acid is added to NaH14CO3. This method is the most commonly used to label photoassimilates with 14C. Then, we monitored 14CO2 activity in rhizosphere respiration of 5-week old maize cultivated in soil and whose shoots had been pulse-labelled with 14CO2. We conclude that alkali traps should be used for a cumulative determination of 14CO2 because they are cheap and accurate. On the other hand, we demonstrated that the flow detection of 14CO2 had a finer temporal resolution and was consequently a relevant tool to study C dynamics in the rhizosphere at a short time scale.
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