Root‐induced soil deformation influences Fe, S and P: rhizosphere chemistry investigated using synchrotron XRF and XANES

Arjen Van Veelen, Nicolai Koebernick, Callum S. Scotson, Daniel McKay‐Fletcher, Thomas Huthwelker, Camelia N. Borca, J. Fred W. Mosselmans, Tiina Roose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Rhizosphere soil has distinct physical and chemical properties from bulk soil. However, besides root-induced physical changes, chemical changes have not been extensively measured in situ on the pore scale.
In this study, we couple structural information, previously obtained using synchrotron X-ray computed tomography (XCT), with synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XRF) and X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) to unravel chemical changes induced by plant roots.
Our results suggest that iron (Fe) and sulfur (S) increase notably in the direct vicinity of the root via solubilization and microbial activity. XANES further shows that Fe is slightly reduced, S is increasingly transformed into sulfate (SO42−) and phosphorus (P) is increasingly adsorbed to humic substances in this enrichment zone. In addition, the ferrihydrite fraction decreases drastically, suggesting the preferential dissolution and the formation of more stable Fe oxides. Additionally, the increased transformation of organic S to sulfate indicates that the microbial activity in this zone is increased. These changes in soil chemistry correspond to the soil compaction zone as previously measured via XCT.
The fact that these changes are colocated near the root and the compaction zone suggests that decreased permeability as a result of soil structural changes acts as a barrier creating a zone with increased rhizosphere chemical interactions via surface-mediated processes, microbial activity and acidification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1476-1490
Number of pages15
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES)
  • iron (Fe)
  • phosphate
  • phosphorus (P)
  • rhizosphere chemistry
  • sulfate
  • sulfur (S)
  • synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF)


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