From Experiments to Simulations: Downscaling Measurements of Na+ Distribution at the Root-Soil Interface

A. Perelman, H. J. Guerra, A. J. Pohlmeier, J. Vanderborght, N. Lazarovitch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


When salinity increases beyond a certain threshold, crop yield will decrease at a fixed rate, according to the Maas and Hoffman model(1976). Thus, it is highly important to predict salinization and its impact on crops. Current models do not consider the impact of the transpiration rate on plant salt tolerance, although it affects plant water uptake and thus salt accumulation around the roots, consequently influencing the plant's sensitivity to salinity. Better model parametrization can improve the prediction of real salinity effects on crop growth and yield. The aim of this research is to study Na + distribution around roots at different scales using different non-invasive methods, and to examine how this distribution is affected by the transpiration rate and plant water uptake. Results from tomato plants that were grown on rhizoslides (a capillary paper growth system)showed that the Na+ concentration was higher at the root-substrate interface than in the bulk. Also, Na+ accumulation around the rootsdecreased under a low transpiration rate, supporting our hypothesis. The rhizoslides enabled the root growth rate and architecture to be studied under different salinity levels. The root system architecture was retrieved from photos taken during the experiment, enabling us to incorporate real root systems into a simulation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to observe correlations between root system architectures and Na+ distribution. The MRI provided fine resolution of the Na+ accumulation around a single root without disturbing the root system. With time, Na+ accumulated only where roots were found in the soil and later around specific roots. Rhizoslides allow the root systems of larger plants to be investigated, but this method is limited by the medium (paper) and the dimension (2D). The MRI can create a 3D image of Na+ accumulation in soil on a microscopic scale. These data are being used for model calibration, which is expected to enable the prediction of root water uptake in saline soils for different climatic condition sand different soil water availabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2017
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • 0416 Biogeophysics
  • 0465 Microbiology: ecology
  • physiology and genomics
  • 1851 Plant ecology
  • 1865 Soils


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