Perennial rye-grass plants were grown at 15°C in microcosms containing soil sampled from field plots that had been maintained at constant pH for the last 30 years. Six soil pH values were tested in the experiment, with pH ranging from 4.3–6.5. After 3 weeks growth in the microcosms, plant shoots were exposed to a pulse of 14C-CO2. The fate of this label was determined by monitoring 14C-CO2 respired by the plant roots/soil and by the shoots. The 14C remaining in plant roots and shoots was determined when the plants were harvested 7 days after receiving the pulse label. The amount of 14C (expressed as a percentage of the total 14C fixed by the plant) lost from the plant roots increased from 12.3 to 30.6% with increasing soil pH from 4.3 to 6. Although a greater percentage of the fixed 14C was respired by the root/soil as soil pH increased, plant biomass was greater with increasing soil pH. Possible reasons for observed changes in the pattern of 14C distribution are discussed and, it is suggested that changes in the soil microbial biomass and in plant nitrogen nutrition may, in particular be key factors which led to increased loss of carbon from plant roots with increasing soil pH.
- lolium perenne