Rhizosheath drought responsiveness is variety-specific and a key component of belowground plant adaptation

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  • Franziska A. Steiner
  • Andreas J. Wild
  • Nicolas Tyborski
  • Shu-Yin Tung
  • Tina Koehler
  • Franz Buegger
  • Andrea Carminati
  • Barbara Eder
  • Jennifer Groth
  • Benjamin D. Hesse
  • Johanna Pausch
  • Tillmann Lüders
  • Wouter K. Vahl
  • Sebastian Wolfrum
  • Müller, Carsten W.
  • Alix Vidal

Biophysicochemical rhizosheath properties play a vital role in plant drought adaptation. However, their integration into the framework of plant drought response is hampered by incomplete mechanistic understanding of their drought responsiveness and unknown linkage to intraspecific plant–soil drought reactions. Thirty-eight Zea mays varieties were grown under well-watered and drought conditions to assess the drought responsiveness of rhizosheath properties, such as soil aggregation, rhizosheath mass, net-rhizodeposition, and soil organic carbon distribution. Additionally, explanatory traits, including functional plant trait adaptations and changes in soil enzyme activities, were measured. Drought restricted soil structure formation in the rhizosheath and shifted plant–carbon from litter-derived organic matter in macroaggregates to microbially processed compounds in microaggregates. Variety-specific functional trait modifications determined variations in rhizosheath drought responsiveness. Drought responses of the plant–soil system ranged among varieties from maintaining plant–microbial interactions in the rhizosheath through accumulation of rhizodeposits, to preserving rhizosheath soil structure while increasing soil exploration through enhanced root elongation. Drought-induced alterations at the root–soil interface may hold crucial implications for ecosystem resilience in a changing climate. Our findings highlight that rhizosheath soil properties are an intrinsic component of plant drought response, emphasizing the need for a holistic concept of plant–soil systems in future research on plant drought adaptation.

TidsskriftNew Phytologist
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)479–492
StatusUdgivet - 2024

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The work was funded by the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung within the collaborative project ‘Rhizo4Bio (Phase 1): RhizoTraits – Rhizosphären‐Merkmale erhöhen die Resilienz der Erträge in modernen Anbausystemen, TP B’ (funding no. 031B0908B). The authors thank Jorge Alberto Benitez Arevalo, Aniela Feldhofer, Bärbel Deischl, Michaela Henn and Christine Pfab for their great help with laboratory work and all people supporting us during long sampling hours in the greenhouse. Furthermore, we greatly acknowledge the support of the Statistical Consulting at TUM. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2024 New Phytologist Foundation.

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