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In Situ Mapping of Nutrient Uptake in the Rhizosphere Using Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth Stockdale, Dr Anke Herrmann


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Plant roots and microorganisms interact and compete for nutrients within the rhizosphere, which is considered one of the most biologically complex systems on Earth. Unraveling the nitrogen (N) cycle is key to understanding and managing nutrient flows in terrestrial ecosystems, yet to date it has proved impossible to analyze and image N transfer in situ within such a complex system at a scale relevant to soil-microbe-plant interactions. Linking the physical heterogeneity of soil to biological processes marks a current frontier in plant and soil sciences. Here we present a new and widely applicable approach that allows imaging of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the stable isotope N-15 assimilated within the rhizosphere. This approach allows visualization and measurement of nutrient resource capture between competing plant cells and microorganisms. For confirmation we show the correlative use of nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry, and transmission electron microscopy, to image differential partitioning of (NH4+)-N-15 between plant roots and native soil microbial communities at the submicron scale. It is shown that N-15 compounds can be detected and imaged in situ in individual microorganisms in the soil matrix and intracellularly within the root. Nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry has potential to allow the study of assimilatory processes at the submicron level in a wide range of applications involving plants, microorganisms, and animals.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clode PL, Kilburn MR, Jones DL, Stockdale EA, Cliff JB, Herrmann AM, Murphy DV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Plant Physiology

Year: 2009

Volume: 151

Issue: 4

Pages: 1751-1757

ISSN (print): 0032-0889

ISSN (electronic): 1532-2548

Publisher: American Society of Plant Biologists


DOI: 10.1104/pp.109.141499


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