Rhizobox / Root Box Systems

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Rhizobox / root box systems of different designs are used to i) separate rhizosphere soil from bulk soil, ii) are a feasible ways to study different aspects of soil–root interactions, iii) to measure root growth, turnover and depth distribution and iv) to sample defined root types (e.g. age classes, orders). Splitting the root compartment of rhizoboxes is a cost-effective way to double the number of replicates, since only negligible additional labor and no additional space is needed.

Assembling the compartments with plastic clamps instead of the commonly used screws facilitates the filling/opening procedure and prolongs the usability time by avoiding corrosion of metal screws by moisture and low pH. The flat surfaces allow for space optimized placement (e.g. important in growth chambers) and easy picture acquisition by standard flat bed scanners. Images can be analysed with (free) software programs (see bottom of page). Materials (e.g. type, colour, transparent/opaque, ...) and dimensions (A4, A3, custom) of the rhizo boxes, assembly of parts (glued or with inserted nuts), perforation of the bottom (frequency, diameter) or completely sealed for studies under sterile conditions, autoclavability, 3D multiple compartmentation  (e.g. front/back separated by 50µm mesh for mycorrhizal hyphae studies), type of seals (Silicon, Teflon, ...) etc. can be ordered according to needs. 

Selected studies using rhizoboxes / root boxes for plant and soil studies
  • Beyer, F., D. Hertel, K. Jung, A.-C. Fender, and C. Leuschner. 2013. Competition effects on fine root survival of Fagus sylvatica and Fraxinus excelsior. Forest Ecology and Management 302:14-22.
  • Gonkhamdee, S., A. Pierret, J. L. Maeght, V. Serra, K. Pannengpetch, C. Doussan, and L. Pages. 2010. Effects of corn (Zea mays L.) on the local and overall root development of young rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis Muel. Arg). Plant and Soil 334:335-351.
  • Hylander, L. D. 2002. Improvements of rhizoboxes used for studies of soil–root interactions. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 33:155-161.
  • Spohn, M., A. Carminati, and Y. Kuzyakov. 2013. Soil zymography–a novel in situ method for mapping distribution of enzyme activity in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 58:275-280.
  • Yao, Q., H. H. Zhu, J. Z. Chen, and P. Christie. 2005. Influence of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus on competition for phosphorus between sweet orange and a leguminous herb. Journal of Plant Nutrition 28:2179-2192.

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