What is it about?

Mucilage is secreted by plant roots and makes it easier for them to grow, as it lessens the mechanical impedance of the soil. Up to now, the influence of the soil moisture content on these mechanisms has not been studied yet. To do so, we mixed soil with mucilage as an analogue of the rhizosphere and performed compression and penetration resistance tests.

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Why is it important?

The effect mucilage has on the mechanical parameters of the rhizosphere depends not only on the mucilage concentration but also on the soil water content. This effect was stronger in a loam than in a sand. It turned out that under difficult growth conditions, secretion of mucilage provides a decisive advantage for root growth.

Perspectives

It is always amazing how little we actually know about the hidden world beneath our feet. Yet, this is what humankind largely depends on - and we take it all for granted! I enjoyed writing this article and hope it can be a small contribution to showing the importance of studying soil and plant interactions.

Ulla Rosskopf
Leibniz Universitat Hannover

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This page is a summary of: Effects of mucilage concentration at different water contents on mechanical stability and elasticity in a loamy and a sandy soil, European Journal of Soil Science, November 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/ejss.13189.
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