Root exudate components change litter decomposition in a simulated rhizosphere depending on temperature

Yakov Kuzyakov, Paul W. Hill, David L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

131 Citations (Scopus)


The release of root exudates into the rhizosphere is known to enhance soil biological activity and alter microbial community structure. To assess whether root exudates also stimulated litter decomposition, in a rhizosphere model system we continuously injected solutions of glucose, malate or glutamate through porous Rhizon® soil solution samplers into the soil at rhizosphere concentrations. The effect of these substances on the decomposition of 14C-labelled Lolium perenne shoot residues present in the soil was evaluated by monitoring 14CO2 evolution at either 15°C or 25°C. The incorporation of the 14C into the microbial biomass and appearance in the dissolved organic matter (DOM) pool was estimated after 32 d incubation. The presence of malate and glutamate increased the mineralization of L. perenne residues by approximately 20% relative to the soil without their addition at 15°C, however, no significant effects on residue decomposition were observed at 25°C. The incorporation of the 14C-label into the microbial biomass and DOM pool was not affected by the addition of either glucose, malate or glutamate. Although nearly the same amount of L. perenne residues were mineralized at either temperature after 32 d, less 14C was recovered in the microbial biomass and DOM pools at 25°C compared to 15°C. Alongside other results, this suggests that the rate of microbial turnover is greater at 25°C compared to 15°C. We conclude that the addition of labile root exudate components to the rhizosphere induced a small but significant increase on litter decomposition but that the magnitude of this effect was regulated by temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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