Effects of Carbon Sequestration Methods on Soil Respiration and Root Systems in Microcosm Experiments and In Vitro Studies

  • Antonio Gelsomino
  • Maria Rosaria Panuccio
  • Agostino Sorgonà
  • Maria Rosa Abenavoli
  • Maurizio Badiani


In the framework of an interdisciplinary research devoted at increasing soil capacity to act as carbon sink by means of innovative and sustainable strategies (the MESCOSAGR Project), we studied, in microcosm-scale model systems, changes of selected soil chemical properties, soil CO2 efflux, and root morpho-topology after addition of either mature compost or a biomimetic catalyst (CAT) (synthetic water-soluble iron–porphyrin), as single addition or in combination of the two treatments. Direct effects of CAT on seed germination, seedling establishment, and plant growth were also evaluated in model plant species. When applied to bare soil, CAT was able to reduce CO2 emission from soil. Soil amendment of compost alone stimulated CO2 emission from soil, whereas its combined addition with CAT strongly depressed the compost-induced CO2 release. In planted microcosms, the contribution of the rhizosphere-derived CO2 efflux markedly increased the total soil respiration and CAT addition further stimulated CO2 release from soil. It is thus suggested that iron–porphyrin, growth of maize root, and CO2 release are functionally interconnected. The increased total soil respiration observed in planted systems may be due to a larger contribution of the rhizosphere-derived CO2 efflux, as a consequence of secondary actions or specific mutual interactions of the catalyst-root system. The direct CAT effect on model plant species implied a complex pattern of dose-dependent, and, remarkably, species-specific responses, as observed in both root systems and aerial plant parts. The observed strong CAT promotion of the synthesis of photosynthetic pigments might indicate an in planta uptake and translocation of the CAT molecule, prompting to envisage potential applications of this molecule in a wider agro-biotechnological context.


Soil Respiration Soil Microcosm Total Soil Respiration Compost Amendment Garden Cress 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



[meso-tetra(2,6-dichloro-3-sulfonatophenyl) porphyrinate of Fe(III)chloride]


Cation exchange capacity






Electrical conductivity


Root fineness


Root length


Murashige and Skoog medium




NADPH:protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase


Root mass ratio


Soil organic matter


Tissue mass density


Topological index


Total nitrogen


Total organic carbon


Root volume


Plant dry weight


Root dry weight


Shoot dry weight



The MESCOSAGR Project contributes to the Strategic Programme “Sustainable Development and Climate Changes”, funded through the Integrative Special Fund for Research by the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research. The authors gratefully acknowledge the dedicated and competent scientific support from Demetrio Tortorella, Barbara Logoteta, Beatrix Petrovičová, and Giuseppe Princi. The technical assistance from Vincenzo Cianci was highly appreciated.


  1. Armstrong GA, Apel K, Wolfhart R (2000) Does a light-harvesting protochlorophyllide a/b-binding protein complex exist? Trends Plant Sci 5:40–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bastida F, Kandeler E, Moreno JL, Garcia C, Hernandez T (2008) Application of fresh and composted organic wastes modifies structure, size and activity of soil microbial community under semiarid climate. Appl Soil Ecol 40:318–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borken W, Muhs A, Beese F (2002) Application of compost in spruce forest: effects on soil respiration, basal respiration and microbial biomass. For Ecol Manag 159:49–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheng W-X (2008) Rhizosphere priming effect: its functional relationships with microbial turnover, evapotranspiration, and C–N budgets. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1795–1801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng W, Kuzyakov Y (2005) Root effects on soil organic matter decomposition. In: Zobel RW, Wright SF (eds) Roots and soil management: interactions between the roots and the soil, Agronomy monograph 48. ASA, CSSA and SSSA, Madison, WI, pp 119–144Google Scholar
  6. Clark LJ, Whalley WR, Barraclough PB (2003) How do roots penetrate strong soil? Plant Soil 255:93–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dijkstra FA, Cheng W-X (2007) Interactions between soil and tree roots accelerate long-term soil carbon decomposition. Ecol Lett 10:1046–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eissenstat DM, Achor DS (1999) Anatomical characteristics of roots of citrus rootstocks that vary in specific root length. New Phytol 141:309–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ellert BH, Janzen HH (1999) Short-term influence of tillage on CO2 fluxes from a semi-arid soil on the Canadian Prairies. Soil Till Res 50:21–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fitter AH (1986) The topology and geometry of plant root system: influence of watering rate on root system topology in Trifolium pratense. Ann Bot 58:91–101Google Scholar
  11. Fukushima M, Shigematsu S, Nagao S (2010) Influence of humic acid type on the oxidation products of pentachlorophenol using hybrid catalysts prepared by introducing iron(III)-5,10,15,20-tetrakis (p-hydroxyphenyl) porphyrin into hydroquinone-derived humic acids. Chemosphere 78:1155–1159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gelsomino A, Tortorella D, Cianci V, Petrovičová B, Sorgonà A, Piccolo A, Abenavoli MR (2010) Effects of a biomimetic iron-porphyrin on soil respiration and maize root morphology as by a microcosm experiment. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 173:399–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glimskär A (2000) Estimates of root system topology of five plant species grown at steady-state nutrition. Plant Soil 227:248–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hahn D, Cozzolino A, Piccolo A, Armenante PM (2007) Reduction of 2,4-dichlorophenol toxicity to Pseudomonas putida after oxidative incubation with humic substances and a biomimetic catalyst. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 66:335–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haynes RJ, Beare MH (1997) Influence of six crop species on aggregate stability and some labile organic matter fractions. Soil Biol Biochem 29:1647–1653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Helal HM, Sauerbeck DR (1984) Influence of plant root on C and P metabolism in soil. Plant Soil 76:175–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Helal HM, Sauerbeck DR (1986) Effect of plant roots on carbon metabolism of soil microbial biomass. Z Pflanzenernähr Bodemkd 149:181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heyes DJ, Sakuma M, Scrutton NS (2007) Laser excitation studies of the product release steps in the catalytic cycle of the light-driven enzyme, protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase. J Biol Chem 282:32015–32020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kampichler C, Bruckner A, Kandeler E (2001) Use of enclosed model ecosystems in soil ecology: a bias towards laboratory research. Soil Biol Biochem 32:269–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kuzyakov Y (2006) Sources of CO2 efflux from soil and review of partitioning methods. Soil Biol Biochem 38:425–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lal R (2007) Carbon management in agricultural soils. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 12:303–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lesage S, Xu H, Durham L (1993) The occurrence and roles of porphyrins in the environment: possible implications for the bioremediation. Hydrolog Sci J 38:343–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lichtenthaler HK, Bach TJ, Wellburn AR (1982) Cytoplasmic and plastidic isoprenoid compounds of oat seedlings and their distinct labelling from 14C-mevalonate. In: Wintermans JFGM, Kuiper PJC (eds) Biochemistry and metabolism of plant lipids. Elsevier Biomedical, Amsterdam, pp 489–500Google Scholar
  24. Lukkari T, Teno S, Väisänen A, Haimi J (2006) Effects of earthworms on decomposition and metal availability in contaminated soils: microcosms studies of populations with different exposure histories. Soil Biol Biochem 38:259–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moyano FE, Kutsch WL, Schulze E-D (2007) Response of mycorrhizal, rhizosphere and soil basal respiration to temperature and photosynthesis in a barley field. Soil Biol Biochem 39:843–853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Murashige T, Skoog F (1962) A revised medium for rapid growth and bioassays with tobacco tissue culture. Physiol Plant 15:473–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Piccolo A, Teshale AZ (1998) Soil processes and responses to climate changes. In: Peter D, Maracchi G, Ghazi A (eds) Climate change impact on agriculture and forestry. European Commission, Brussels, pp 79–92Google Scholar
  28. Piccolo A, Conte P, Tagliatesta P (2005) Increased conformational rigidity of humic substances by oxidative biomimetic catalysis. Biomacromolecules 6:351–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Piccolo A, Spaccini R, Nebbioso A, Mazzei P (2011) Soil carbon sequestration by in situ catalyzed photo-oxidative polymerization of soil organic matter. Environ Sci Technol. 45:6697–6702Google Scholar
  30. Pregitzer KS, Zak DR, Maziasz J, DeForest J, Curtis PS, Lussenhop J (2000) Interactive effects of atmospheric CO2 and soil-N availability on fine roots of Populus tremuloides. Ecol Appl 10:18–33Google Scholar
  31. Pregitzer KS, Burton AJ, King JS, Zak DR (2008) Soil respiration, root biomass, and root turnover following long-term exposure of northern forests to elevated atmospheric CO2 and tropospheric O3. New Phytol 180:152–161Google Scholar
  32. Ryser P (1998) Intra- and interspecific variation in root length, root turnover and the underlying parameters. In: Lambers H, Poorter H, Van Vuuren MMI (eds) Inherent variation in plant growth: physiological mechanisms and ecological consequences. Backhuys, Leiden, pp 441–465Google Scholar
  33. Ryser P, Lambers H (1995) Root and leaf attributes accounting for the performance of fast- and slow-growing grasses at different nutrient supply. Plant Soil 170:251–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sikora LJ, Stott DE (1996) Soil organic carbon and nitrogen. In: Doran JW, Jones AJ (eds) Methods for assessing soil quality. SSSA, Madison, WI, pp 157–167, SSSA Special Publication No. 49Google Scholar
  35. Skribanek A, Apatini D, Inaoka M, Boddi B (2000) Protochlorophyllide and chlorophyll forms in dark-grown stems and stem-related organs. J Photochem Photobiol B: Biol 55:172–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smart DR, Peñuelas J (2005) Short-term CO2 emissions from planted soil subject to elevated CO2 and simulated precipitation. Appl Soil Ecol 28:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Šmejkalová D, Piccolo A (2005) Enhanced molecular dimension of a humic acid induced by photooxidation catalysed by biomimetic metalporphyrins. Biomacromolecules 6:2120–2125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Šmejkalová D, Piccolo A, Spiteller M (2006) Oligomerization of humic phenolic monomers by oxidative coupling under biomimetic catalysis. Environ Sci Technol 40:6955–6962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith KM (1975) Porphyrins and metalloporphyrins. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  40. Sparks DL (1996) Methods of soil analysis, part 3, chemical methods No. 5. SSSA, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  41. Tingey DT, Lee EH, Lewis JD, Johnson MG, Rygiewicz PT (2008) Do mesocosms influence photosynthesis and soil respiration? Env Exp Bot 62:36–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tortorella D, Gelsomino A (2011) Influence of compost amendment and maize root system on soil CO2 efflux: a mesocosm approach. Agrochimica LV 1:1–18Google Scholar
  43. Traylor PS, Dolphin D, Traylor TG (1984) Sterically protected hemins with electronegative substituents: efficient catalysts for hydroxylation and epoxidation. J Chem Soc Chem Commun 1984:279–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tresder KK, Morris SJ, Allen MF (2005) The contribution of root exudates, symbionts, and detritus to carbon sequestration in the soil. In: Zobel RW, Wright SF (eds) Roots and soil management: interactions between the roots and the soil, Agronomy monograph 48. ASA, CSSA and SSSA, Madison, WI, pp 145–168Google Scholar
  45. Wahl S, Ryser P (2000) Root tissue structure is linked to ecological strategies of grasses. New Phytol 148:459–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Gelsomino
    • 1
  • Maria Rosaria Panuccio
    • 1
  • Agostino Sorgonà
    • 1
  • Maria Rosa Abenavoli
    • 1
  • Maurizio Badiani
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento BIOMAAUniversità MediterraneaReggio CalabriaItaly

Personalised recommendations