The rhizosphere is a nutrient-rich region of the soil immediately surrounding the plant root. This region is highly dynamic and supports a dense and diverse fauna. Despite the challenges associated with studying ecological interactions in a soil matrix, researchers are beginning to understand the complex ecological interactions occurring in the rhizosphere. Chemical communication plays an integral role in the ecology of the rhizosphere, and new functions for intra- and interspecific signals continue to

Serial plating counts, trapping Rhizotron

Funnels, trapping

Ergosterol, chitin, fatty acid markers Fluorescence microscopy

Non-PCR techniques (GC content, reassociation, and hybridization, microarrays)

PCR techniques (DGGE, TGGE, SSCP, RFLP, T-RFLP, RISA) Carbon utilization (e.g., Biolog plates) Nitrogen fixation rate Respiration rate surface. Much of the knowledge on rhizosphere biology has been revealed by agricultural researchers, who have studied many of the positive and negative relationships between plants and soil microbes. Though detailed descriptions exist for many rhizosphere interactions, the complex and cryptic nature of the rhizosphere will continue to challenge scientists interested in the ecology of the plant-soil interface and its associate biota.

See also: Composting and Formation of Humic Substances; Decomposition and Mineralization; Microbial Ecology; Plant Growth Models; Plant Competition; Plant Defense; Plant Ecology; Plant Physiology; Soil Ecology.

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