RHIZO

Background

In the past decades, forest productivity was maximized by the use of large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides. The production of these chemicals consumes high levels of energy from fossil fuels, emits large amounts CO2, increases ground- and surface water pollution and soil degradation in Europe and other parts of the world. Part of the problem is a lack of fundamental understanding about mineral-derived nutrient dynamics in forests, their weathering release, storage and transport in soils and roots to maintain high, but sustainable, production of high quality wood products.

The goal of the project

  • investigate the physical and chemical characteristics of mineral-microbe interactions in biofilm cover on mineral particles that were either collected in the field or from growth column experiments
  •  gain information about understanding of the rhizospheric
    biofilm three dimensional physical structures, 3-D inorganic elemental composition and distribution of the biofilm, and response of rhizospheric biofilm development to cation nutrient limitations

Results

The results supports that symbiotic relationship between higher plants and fungi and/or bacteria can facilitate increased uptake of limiting nutrients from mineral sources, and thus play an important role in chemical weathering processes. This implies that mineral amendments can be utilized to aid sustainable forest management if they are supplied in sufficient amounts and composition. The project also provided insight to better understand microbial attachment to mineral surfaces and their direct nutrient uptake from the solid phase without using soil solutions when nutrients present in limited amounts. This can be used in environmental and bioremediation efforts cleaning up mine fields and polluted sites by manipulating the microbial community through nutrient sources and limitations. While The research is focusing on understanding the fundamental processes that are involved in chemical weathering and nutrient acquisition, the results provide information for sustainable forest management practices that can benefit our society.