About this Research Topic
Soil physical properties such as water availability, soil mechanical impedance and the gas composition (e.g. O2, CO2) of the soil atmosphere strongly affect root growth physiology, water and nutrient acquisition, and thus whole plant growth. These physical properties may change within millimeters due to localized differences in soil porosity, pore size distribution, and soil biological activity. Moreover, changes in soil moisture may induce temporal fluctuations in soil physical conditions. Hence, plant roots inhabit a highly heterogeneous physical environment. Investigating responses of roots to spatial and temporal variations in soil physical conditions and identifying mechanisms underlying these responses are crucial for a holistic understanding of plant growth.
Soil physical stresses such as low water availability, high mechanical impedance or hypoxia may alter root physiology and thereby reduce soil exploration and plant growth. Due to spatial and temporal variations in soil physical conditions, these stresses may only affect part of the root system or may occur just for a limited period of time during a plant’s life cycle. Thus, spatial and temporal fluctuations may play a key role for plant growth and the primary productivity of both natural and managed terrestrial ecosystems. To improve our mechanistic understanding of processes governing plant growth, the effects of spatially or temporally limited soil physical stress on root physiology and soil exploration need to be addressed.
This Research Topic aims to advance our understanding on the effects of spatial and temporal fluctuations in soil physical conditions on root physiology and whole plant growth. Contributions should clearly demonstrate the necessity to bridge root physiology with soil (bio-)physics in order to gain new insights into environmental factors underpinning plant growth in natural and managed ecosystems. We welcome Original Research, Review and Perspective article types. In particular we would like to see submissions in the following areas:
• Studies elucidating biophysical processes and mechanisms at the root-soil interface that are key to soil exploration under spatially or temporally heterogeneous soil physical conditions.
• Studies exploring the potential to harness such processes and mechanisms in order to improve root growth and the acquisition of nutrients and water under spatially or temporally heterogeneous soil physical conditions.
• Experimental as well as theoretical and modelling studies are welcome for submission.
Keywords: Root growth, soil heterogeneity, root-soil interactions, rhizosphere biophysics, soil physics
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.