The effect of elevated CO2 concentration and soil pH on the relationship between plant growth and rhizosphere denitrification potential

Authors


Dr J M Hall, tel +44/(0)1224 273725, Fax +44/(0)1224 272268, e-mail j.m.hall@aberdeen.ac.uk

Abstract

The effect of CO2 concentration on plant growth and the size of the rhizosphere denitrifier population was investigated for ryegrass grown at 3 different soil pH values (pH 4.3, 5.9 and 7.0). Soil microcosms were planted with ryegrass and maintained under constant growth conditions at either ambient (450ppm) or elevated (720ppm) CO2 concentration. At harvest, the rhizosphere soil was collected and subjected to a potential denitrification assay to provide an estimate of the size of the denitrifier population present. Ryegrass dry matter production varied across the pH range studied and contrary to other studies, elevated CO2 concentration did not consistently increase growth. Plant growth was reduced by ≈ 35% and 23% at pH 4.3 and pH 5.9, respectively, under elevated CO2 concentration. At pH 7.0, however, plant growth was increased by ≈ 45% under elevated CO2. Potential denitrification rates within the rhizosphere followed a similar pattern to plant growth in the different treatments, suggesting that plant growth and the size of denitrifier population within the rhizosphere are coupled. This study investigates the relationship between plant growth and rhizosphere denitrification potential, thereby providing an estimate of the size of the denitrifier population under increased CO2 concentration and soil pH.

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