Plant and Soil

, Volume 256, Issue 1, pp 67–83 | Cite as

The role of root exudates and allelochemicals in the rhizosphere

  • Cecile Bertin
  • Xiaohan Yang
  • Leslie A. WestonEmail author


Plant roots serve a multitude of functions in the plant including anchorage, provision of nutrients and water, and production of exudates with growth regulatory properties. The root–soil interface, or rhizosphere, is the site of greatest activity within the soil matrix. Within this matrix, roots affect soil structure, aeration and biological activity as they are the major source of organic inputs into the rhizosphere, and are also responsible for depletion of large supplies of inorganic compounds. Roots are very complicated morphologically and physiologically, and their metabolites are often released in large quantities into the soil rhizosphere from living root hairs or fibrous root systems. Root exudates containing root-specific metabolites have critical ecological impacts on soil macro and microbiota as well as on the whole plant itself. Through the exudation of a wide variety of compounds, roots impact the soil microbial community in their immediate vicinity, influence resistance to pests, support beneficial symbioses, alter the chemical and physical properties of the soil, and inhibit the growth of competing plant species. In this review, we outline recent research on root exudation and the role of allelochemicals in the rhizosphere by studying the case of three plants that have been shown to produce allelopathic root exudates: black walnut, wheat and sorghum

allelopathy black walnut excretion exudate rhizosphere root root exudation root hair secondary products secretion sorghum wheat 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecile Bertin
    • 1
  • Xiaohan Yang
    • 1
  • Leslie A. Weston
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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