A novel approach to study composition of in situ produced root-derived dissolved organic matter

Carla E. Rosenfeld, M. Luke McCormack, Carmen E. Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Carbon (C) compounds released from plant roots comprise a significant and reactive fraction of belowground C pools. These root-derived compounds modify rhizosphere soil and play a vital role in the mobility of nutrients and contaminants within ecosystems. Due to their low concentration, fast turnover, and limited spatial distribution throughout the soil, root-derived compounds are difficult to study. This study combined a 13C pulse-chase technique and 1D and 2D nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy techniques to analyze root-derived compounds produced in real soil. The pulsed samples displayed distinct enrichment in aliphatic and carbohydrate-type compounds indicating that pulse-chase approaches are a viable technique for isolating root-derived from background DOM. However, multiple NMR techniques may be necessary to develop a full profile of root-derived DOM. This is the first use of combined pulse-chase-NMR methodologies to analyze in situ produced root-derived DOM. Such a combination is applicable to various experimental designs and/or environmental scenarios, and can provide valuable information for future rhizosphere science. •Soil solution contained 1.8 atom% 13C 4h after a 3-h99 atom% 13C-CO2 pulse.•Root-derived DOM contained aliphatics and carbohydrates as measured by HMQC NMR.•Absence of carboxylic acids is likely due to resolvable analytical limitations.•Pulse-chase with NMR is useful to identify root-derived DOM in situ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research was supported by PSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences , College of Agricultural Sciences , and NSF GK-12 fellowship (NSF Award #: 0947962 ). We thank L. Kochian for seeds, E. Hatzakis for NMR assistance and T. Adams for helpful suggestions. All NMR work was performed at PSU NMR Spectroscopy Facility.


  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Exudates
  • NMR
  • Pulse-chase
  • Rhizosphere
  • Stable isotopes


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