skip to main content


Title: Imaging Nutrient Distribution in the Rhizosphere Using FTIR Imaging

Symbiotic associations in the rhizosphere between plants and microorganisms lead to efficient changes in the distribution of nutrients that promote growth and development for each organism involved. Understanding these nutrient fluxes provides insight into the molecular dynamics involved in nutrient transport from one organism to the other. Here, to study such a nutrient flow, a new application of Fourier transform infrared imaging (FTIRI) was developed that entailed growing Populus tremulodes seedlings on a thin, nutrient-enriched Phytagel matrix that allows pixel to pixel measurement of the distribution of nutrients, in particular, nitrate, in the rhizosphere. The FTIR spectra collected from ammonium nitrate in the matrix indicated the greatest changes in the spectra at 1340 cm -1 due to the asymmetric stretching vibrations of nitrate. For quantification of the nitrate concentration in the rhizosphere of experimental plants, a calibration curve was generated that gave the nitrate concentration at each pixel in the chemical image. These images of the poplar rhizosphere showed evidence for symbiotic sharing of nutrients between the plant and the fungi, Laccaria bicolor, where the nitrate concentration was five times higher near mycorrhizal roots than further out into the rhizosphere. This suggested that nitrates are acquired and transported from themore » media toward the plant root by the fungi. Similarly, the sucrose used in the growth media as a carbon source was depleted around the fungi, suggesting its uptake and consumption by the system. In conclusion, this study is the first of its kind to visualize and quantify the nutrient availability associated with mycorrhizal interactions, indicating that FTIRI has the ability to monitor nutrient changes with other microorganisms in the rhizosphere as a key step for understanding nutrient flow processes in more diverse biological systems.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [4] ;  [3]
  1. Stony Brook Univ., NY (United States). Dept. of Chemistry
  2. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)
  3. University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL (United States). Department of Biological Science
  4. Stony Brook Univ., NY (United States). Dept. of Chemistry; Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0003-2700; TRN: US1800596
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0012704; SC0006652; AC02-98CH10886
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Analytical Chemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 89; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 0003-2700
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; FTIR imaging; mycorrhizal fungi; rhizosphere; Phytagel; nutrient distribution
OSTI Identifier: