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Exploring the Rhizosphere

Exploring the Rhizosphere

Laurita Winery , wine news , Wine Science 🕔November 13, 2017 0 comments

When we talk about wine  – and viniculture specifically – there are a lot of terms we’ve learned to consider.We know that everything from the native, local plants to the soil itself have an intrinsic effect on the flavor of wine. But it seems for the bigger picture, we need to dig deep.

Well, maybe not that deep.

We’re talking about “The Dark, Teeming Vineyard Underworld”, as Wine Enthusiast puts it.

You’re forgiven if you think that plant life is just about sunlight, water and photosynthesis. That’s only half the story. The other half takes place unseen in the dark, teeming underworld that scientists call the rhizosphere.

The soil immediately surrounding the roots of a vine are teeming with microbial life. Their world is the rhizosphere.

Soil contains dazzling numbers of microbes which interact with plant roots… The soil microbial community is extremely diverse, and [it] contains beneficial microbes as well as pathogens.

Roots, of course, draw water and nutrients from soil. But vine roots also return compounds to the soil in the form of amino acids, proteins, and sugars. These excretions, or exudates, encourage the growth of tiny fungal organisms which actually increase water and nutrient uptake by the roots.

Interestingly, it’s more efficient for the vine to support these fungal networks than to grow extra roots of its own.

The fungal growth also helps to prevent pathogens from attacking the roots.

The exudates also enable various bacteria… Various species help decompose organic matter in the soil that allows plants to take in nutrients like nitrogen, often via the filament networks created by the mycorrhizae.

More research into the rhizosphere will almost certainly effect viniculture in the future.

Currently, we are using many toxic and harmful pesticides to combat pathogens and herbivores… [Then] we throw tons of nutrients on our fields to enhance production. What if we could use beneficial microbes to do the job for us and our crops? That would be much healthier for humans and our natural environment.

It’s exciting news, and we look forward to future studies and applications!

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