Plant and Soil

, Volume 256, Issue 2, pp 347–357

Differences in rhizosphere carbon-partitioning among plant species of different families


DOI: 10.1023/A:1026147622800

Cite this article as:
Warembourg, F.R., Roumet, C. & Lafont, F. Plant and Soil (2003) 256: 347. doi:10.1023/A:1026147622800


Interspecific variations in carbon (C) allocation and partitioning in the rhizosphere were investigated on 12 Mediterranean species belonging to different family groups (grasses, legumes, non-legume forbs) and having different life cycles. Plants grown individually in artificial soil, in a greenhouse and inoculated with rhizosphere microflora were labelled with 14CO2 for 3 h at the vegetative stage. Rhizosphere respiration was measured during 6 days after which labelled C partitioning between shoots, roots, soil, root washing solution and respiration was estimated. The percentage of assimilated 14C allocated below ground differed significantly between species (41 – 76%) but no significant difference was found between grasses, legumes and non-legume forbs. When expressed as percentage of below-ground 14C, rhizosphere respiration was significantly smaller for non-legume forbs (42%) than for grasses (46%) and legumes (51%). Consequently more 14C was incorporated into root biomass in the former. Half-life of 14CO2 evolution through respiration ranged from 23 h in legumes to 27 h for non-legume forbs and 37 h for grasses. This suggested differences in microbial activities due to quantities and quality of root exuded C. Rhizosphere respiration was positively correlated with the amount of 14C in the solution used to wash the roots on one hand, and root N concentration on the other hand. This led to a functional hierarchy between plant family groups of the overall rhizosphere activity. It went from non-legume forbs being the less active (except Crepis sancta)in terms of respiration and exudation, to grasses and then legumes, the most active but also the richest in nitrogen.

14CO2 plant labelling life cycle plant family rhizosphere respiration root exudation 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS, UPR 9056)Montpellier Cedex 5France

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