The differences in rhizosphere nitrification activities between high- and low- fertility soils appear to be related to differences in dissolved oxygen concentrations in the soil, implying a relationship to differences in the radial oxygen loss (ROL) of rice roots in these soils. A miniaturised Clark-type oxygen microelectrode system was used to determine rice root ROL and the rhizosphere oxygen profile, and rhizosphere nitrification activity was studied using a short-term nitrification activity assay. Rice planting significantly altered the oxygen cycling in the water-soil system due to rice root ROL. Although the oxygen content in control high-fertility soil (without rice plants) was lower than that in control low-fertility soil, high rice root ROL significantly improved the rhizosphere oxygen concentration in the high-fertility soil. High soil fertility improved the rice root growth and root porosity as well as rice root ROL, resulting in enhanced rhizosphere nitrification. High fertility also increased the content of nitrification-induced nitrate in the rhizosphere, resulting in enhanced ammonium uptake and assimilation in the rice. Although high ammonium pools in the high-fertility soil increased rhizosphere nitrification, rice root ROL might also contribute to rhizosphere nitrification improvement. This study provides new insights into the reasons that an increase in soil fertility may enhance the growth of rice. Our results suggest that an amendment of the fertiliser used in nutrient- and nitrification-poor paddy soils in the red soil regions of China may significantly promote rice growth and rice N nutrition.
Li, Y., Shi, W., Wang, X., New Insights into How Increases in Fertility Improve the Growth of Rice at the Seedling Stage in Red Soil Regions of Subtropical China, PLoS ONE, Volume: 9 Issue 10 Pages: 1-11 Published: OCT 2014.